Each year, nearly 30,000 of the 463,000 children in foster care throughout the United States reach the age of adulthood (age 18 to 21) and are discharged from the foster care system to live on their own without resources or support. Illinois has the third highest rate of young adults emancipating, or “aging out,” of foster care in the country, with approximately 1,200 youth aging out each year. Foster children who age out of foster care are at high risk of homelessness, poverty, unemployment, incarceration, as well as physical and mental health issues.
Goals of the Program
Children’s Home & Aid’s Adult Connections program helps youth aging out of foster care to improve their social support system and improve their job skills by providing youth with highly supported mentoring, job skills training and a paid internship experience. More specifically:
- Foster youth will establish a safe, trusting relationship with a caring, committed adult;
- Foster youth will demonstrate increased job-skill attainment to prepare them for a paid internship and future employment; and
- Youth who have emancipated will have more stable living arrangements and improved emotional well-being.
How You Can Help
The Adult Connections program allows volunteers to provide foster youth with social and emotional support during an important period of their lives. By volunteering to mentor a foster child between the ages of 17 – 21, you will assist youth who are preparing to live on their own. The Adult Connections program seeks caring, committed adults (over age 25) who are looking for a unique long term but flexible mentoring opportunity, where in-person contact is not always necessary.
What You Can Expect as an Adult Connection
Children’s Home & Aid works with volunteers of the program and youth to find an appropriate match. Once a match is made, Children’s Home & Aid staff will facilitate the relationship, arranging a flexible agreement between the youth and the Adult Connection, including: expectations as participants of the program, frequency and type of contact, and activities to help youth achieve their goals in preparation for transition.