Resources for Foster Youths During Holidays
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
OMAHA, Neb. -- Some 24,000 teenagers in foster care across the nation officially become adults each year; in Nebraska it happens on their 19th birthday.
They are expected to move out and start their lives on their own, yet many do not have a reliable support system. They face many challenges, including finding a job and a place to live.
Aaron Weaver, central access navigator for Nebraska Children's Project Everlast in Omaha, said the holiday season can be especially hard.
"A lot of young people don't have any contact with biological family and were never adopted," Weaver explained. "They might not have a place to go during the holiday season. People who are in dorms oftentimes are asked to leave and may not have a place to go for the holiday season as well."
Studies have found within two to four years after leaving foster care, 40% of young adults experienced homelessness or were incarcerated, 46% did not graduate from high school, and more than half were unemployed.
Weaver pointed out support and resources are available through NebraskaChildren.org, where staff can help connect youth to specific programs by county.
Many young people who have aged out of foster care lack basic life skills, such as how to do laundry or cook dinner for themselves.
Weaver noted adult volunteers can make a big difference, just by being a reliable voice on the telephone or making time to meet up for coffee.
"A lot of studies show that if a young person has one supportive adult in their life for more than a year, so is consistently there to support them for a year or more, that their outcomes are greatly, greatly improved," Weaver outlined.
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor, or helping foster youths in other ways, can sign up through NebraskaChildren.org.
As the holidays draw near, Weaver encouraged young people to check the site for events near them, and to consider creating their own family gathering with friends.
"You determine who is in your life, and you determine who your supports are," Weaver remarked. "And you can choose who you love and who you let love you. And make sure that it's people that are healthy."
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