American foster care is far from perfect. While the foster care system does help connect some children with loving forever homes, they’re often considered the lucky ones. In 2020 alone, over 20,000 children aged out of foster care without ever being adopted.
These children are often left with few life skills, little direction, and no connections. Connections Homes was established to bridge this gap between being part of the foster care system and being a responsible adult who positively contributes to society. If you’re the parent of a teen or young adult and your child has friends in foster care, you likely have far more impact than you realize. If your child’s friends are looking for options, answers, and connections as they age out of foster care, you can be that helping hand that leads them to good resources, solid mentors, and a future full of hope and possibility.
Why Do They Need Help?
Instead of being adopted out or reunited with a trusted guardian, many young adults have spent years in the foster care system, only to age out of the system without a supportive family or circle of friends to guide and support them.
Foster care facilities are often incredibly full, meaning that it can be hard to give attention to each and every kid in the way he or she needs it. Since these young adults are about to age out and no longer be considered kids, they may get pushed even further to the sidelines. As a result, they are in extreme danger of becoming homeless or putting themselves in dangerous situations just to satisfy their basic needs.
How You Can Help
We know that it is a huge responsibility to take on a foster child, especially an older one who has gone through the repeated heartbreak and hardship that comes with slipping through the cracks. If you’re not up for adopting them, that’s perfectly understandable. However, there are resources you can direct them to in order to help them have the best chance at success.
Those living in stable situations often take for granted the lifesaving potential of our public services. Among a slew of others, libraries in particular are often underutilized since they’re only associated with books, but they tend to offer far more than that. Many libraries also host free classes teaching basic life skills and can serve as community hubs connecting people to affordable housing, jobs, and social networks.
Beyond offering potential job connections of your own, there are many organizations out there that offer free career services to those seeking employment. As a matter of fact, we offer career services ourselves! Children in foster care often don’t have work experience due to a lack of reliable transportation, so helping them learn how to navigate the workforce can make all the difference both now and in the future.
As we said, these children often have very few, if any, meaningful and beneficial connections as they age out. They may have lost their friends through adoption, transfer, or reunification many times over, and it can be difficult for them to form bonds as a result. They may not have reliable adults in their lives who can advise them, guide them, and encourage them as they learn to navigate adulthood on their own. There’s also a possibility that they’ve experienced some form of abuse or neglect in their lives, which may further exacerbate trust issues and hesitations in getting close to someone. That’s why, even if you don’t plan on mentoring them yourself, it’s important to connect them to those who will. And never underestimate the power of simple compassion. Showing your children’s friends that you care about them and their wellbeing may just be the encouragement they need to make good choices and establish the connections they need to thrive.
Here at Connections Homes, we do just that. If you or your child knows someone who is about to age out of foster care, we may be able to help them by connecting them to a Mentoring Family who can teach them not only how to face this world, but also that they don’t have to face it alone.