Homelessness is a serious issue in our city and one that deserves thoughtful, compassionate solutions and the support of the community. Here at CASA, a youth-serving nonprofit, we have first-hand knowledge of the unique challenges faced by youth in foster care and victims of domestic violence, including homelessness and poverty.
Each year in our community, dozens of young people turn 18 and emancipate–or age out–from the foster care system. Aging out of foster care without a life plan or preparation puts these vulnerable youth at great risk. These risks include homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, criminal involvement, and mental health issues.
About one in five teens become homeless within a year after leaving foster care, and one in four emancipated foster youth will be incarcerated within the first two years after they leave the system.
CASA programs address the unique challenges faced by older foster youth and to prevent, or even reverse these trends. The Fostering Futures program engages volunteers as advocates for and advisers to foster youth ages 7-17, with the goal of helping them develop specific transition plans, identify supportive adult connections, and achieve positive outcomes once they transition out of foster care.
In addition, the CASA Hanger project was created to fulfill the need for clothing and personal items for foster teens; it also provides life skills workshops and other opportunities for personal and professional growth. The goal is to help teens transition from foster care to becoming independent, self-sufficient and productive adults in the community.
In so many ways our advocates are well-positioned to facilitate needed services to proactively prevent homeless and ensure safe, permanent homes for children and youth.