The Foundation plays an important community leadership role as an impartial convener of agencies as they come together to help solve community issues,on topics as varied as improving mental health services, expanding educational opportunities, and revitalizing neighborhoods.
One issue that came to the Foundation’s attention was the predominantly negative outcomes of young adults in our community who were transitioning out of foster care. From 2002 to 2008, 149 foster care children in Forsyth County turned 18. For many, that milestone meant they were now alone, without a support network to help them move forward in life. According to local and national studies, for youth transitioning out of the foster care system, 42 percent experienced homelessness; 45 percent did not complete high school or achieve a GED, 29 percent were single parents, and 68 percent had no natural support system, not surprising statistics given their circumstances.
The Foundation has served as the coordinator for the Youth in Transition Community Initiative since late 2009. A group of diverse organizations (see photo above) such as the Department of Social Services, The Children’s Home and Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, as well as individuals, including previous and current youth in foster care, have worked together to identify the challenges for these young people, to research existing programs that can meet those challenges, and to identify service gaps that might exist in the community.
Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina is serving as the program’s lead agency based on its existing resources and experience in implementing supportive programs for youth such as mentoring, housing support and financial literacy training. Youth in Transition has also received invaluable program support from the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, which has worked with 11 other U.S. communities to-date to improve outcomes for youth aging out of foster care. Substantial financial support has been provided by The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust with a three-year grant totaling $486,565 and The Duke Endowment, which is providing a two-year grant of $594,793.
Key members of both the Initiative’s Governing Committee and Youth Board are youth who have aged out of foster care, and they have contributed greatly while gaining invaluable experience by taking an active role in solving this community issue.
Youth in Transition's collaborative efforts and progress were featured in the Fall 2012 issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal.
Interested in learning more about Youth in Transition? Visit www.youthintransition.org.