Project LIFE Impacts Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
October 28, 2014
Parents, teachers, pastors and family friends: these are all examples of mentors that young people have to help them succeed as they grow into young adults. Children who have grown up in the foster care system may not have had access to such important influencers. The world can be a scary place for 21-year-olds who are aging out of the system with no family and without the skills to make it on their own. Through UMFS’ partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), Project LIFE’s mission is to enhance the successful transition of foster teens into adulthood. Last year, Project LIFE impacted more than 1,600 teenagers and continues to do so using the following strategies.
National Youth in Transition Database
Project LIFE maintains relationships with kids after they age out of the system in order to gauge how our services work. We do this through a data collection system required by The Foster Care Independence Act, which helps us develop measurable outcomes towards kids’ preparation for adulthood. Project LIFE and VDSS work together to survey kids who are close to or have already aged out of the system to see how they are doing and how they are succeeding at living independently.
Youth Development & Engagement
Project LIFE seek outs and creates leadership opportunities for kids in foster care ages 14 through 21. When foster teens are given the opportunity to serve on panels or committees, it provides them with the skills to more effectively communicate about issues affecting themselves and their peers in foster care. By participating in these roles, teens and young adults also gain the confidence they will need to live independently as adults.
Training & Technical Assistance
Older teenagers in foster care receive training and resources related to achieving independent living skills, such as finding housing and employment, managing money and obtaining credit reports. Project LIFE works in collaboration with the local DSS and private organizations to provide young adults with training, technical assistance and tool-sharing that will help teens build a life for themselves, engage in their communities and achieve lifelong connections during and after foster care.