Helping Teens Transition from Foster Care to Adulthood
Guide and Provide
(page 4 of 4)
Youth Services and Support
Things are changing as more resources for once-forgotten kids who have aged out of foster care sprout up. Here are some of the groups aiming to help young people who are aging out, or have aged out, of foster care:
Capital City Youth Services
The group provides a six-bed Transitional Living Program for teens ages 16 to 19, usually runaways, homeless youth or teens without a guardian. Some aged out of the foster-care system or they’re no longer eligible for various reasons, and they haven’t found appropriate housing, said Capital City’s Kevin Priest.
The program also helps teens determine their next step, whether it’s going to school or learning a trade. Teens learn independent living skills including doing the laundry, grocery shopping and managing money. Teens can stay there up to 18 months.
Capital City Youth Services also runs a street outreach program called Going Places for young people ages 11 to 21 in Railroad Square. For some homeless kids, it’s a place to take a shower and get a hot meal, said outreach supervisor Taylor Biro.
But the Going Places program recently lost its federal grant of $144,000 and is organizing fund-raisers to replace the money. “We’re still operating but it’s up in the air,” said Priest.
Teens can use the drop-in center’s computers, laundry facilities and get clothes, shoes and hygiene products. Counselors help connect youth regain benefits and find services.
Capital City Youth Services: 2407 Roberts Ave.; (850) 576-6000. Going Places Street Outreach, 1017 Commercial Drive; (850) 294-6044.
Children’s Home Society
CHS provides programs that intervene to help neglected or abused infants, children and teens. The social services organization has a variety of roles, primarily involving adoption and fostering children. The organization also trains volunteers, including potential mentors and tutors. 1801 Miccosukee Commons Drive; (850) 921-0772.
Florida Youth Shine
Young people drive this advocacy organization. Members are current or former foster-care teens and young adults between the ages of 13 and 24. The group’s primary purpose is pushing for the rights of their peers, but they also act as a support group. Contact: email@example.com.
Dress for Success
The Tallahassee chapter of this national organization helps provide teens and women ages 17 and over with the appropriate clothes for a job interview. Organizations refer women to shop for business attire in the group’s boutique at no cost. If the job candidate gets hired, she can shop for three additional free outfits. Needed: new or gently used business or business casual attire, shoes, purses and accessories as well as financial donations. 2901 E. Park Ave., Unit 2600; (850) 656-0181.
Fostering Achievement Fellowship Program at Tallahassee Community College
The program helps students with myriad issues, including academics, tutoring, financial aid, housing gaps, mental health needs and emotional support. TCC’s Emily Rattini-Reich also helps identify former foster-care youth who don’t realize they’re entitled to a tuition waiver and other benefits. She teaches students how to navigate college and also give back to the school and community. Students attend Wednesday workshops covering a range of topics. (850) 201-9767; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guardian Ad Litem Program
The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian Ad Litem Program provides a court-appointed volunteer to advocate for children who have been neglected or abused. Anyone who wants to help youths in other ways can also contact the program. One new project, First Beginnings, is designed to help young people venturing out on their own. “Our ultimate goal is to give older youths the opportunity to make their first place feel like their home,” said the program’s Deborah Moore. Needed: new or gently used furniture, new beds and bedding, bagless vacuums and other household goods. Leon County Court Annex, 1920 Thomasville Road, Suite 208; (850) 606-1218. iServe GAL Sweet Dreams Ministry, 2800 Shamrock St. South; (850) 893-1116.
The nonprofit group works with high-performing underprivileged college students aged 18-25 and pairs them with successful mentors in varied fields in the community. The program emphasizes “empowerment, association and direction” as the keys to personal and professional development. About a dozen of the 120 are former foster care youth. There are so many different needs,” said Tanya Wilkins, former state child advocate for Gov. Rick Scott’s administration. “A lot of people would love to do something but don’t know what to do.” She’s co-founder of LifeConnectors with her husband, David Wilkins, former Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families. The group trains volunteers to mentor young people and teach a life skills curriculum. Other volunteers help with tutoring and other needs. lifeconnectors.org
TRIO/Student Support Services at Florida A&M University
The program provides services to about 250 low-income, first-generation or disabled students. About 25 to 30 of those students are current or former foster-care youths. Services include academic advising, tutoring, time and money management, housing needs and counseling. TRIO, with assistance from other university administrators, is also launching a group called Rattler CARES to help homeless students, primarily former foster care youths. The pilot program is expected to start in the spring, said TRIO director Jovanny Felix. 640 Campbell Drive; (850) 599-3055.
Unconquered Scholars Program at Florida State University
The program supports students who have experienced foster care, homelessness, relative care or been a ward of the state. Services include tutoring, work-study, housing and counseling. The program’s coordinator, Lisa Jackson, said young people who have grown up in these situations “need that mentorship, connection and advocacy that they would normally get from a parent. It helps them to have each other.” Thagard Building, 109 Collegiate Loop, Room 303; (850) 296-6811; Lisa.a.Jackso@fsu.edu.