A network of adoptive families, birth families, and adoption professionals which exists to improve the lives of children and others touched by adoption through support and education. UFA is actively engaged in community outreach and advocacy to raise awareness of adoption as a loving option.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Strategies to Ease Transition When Aging Out of Foster Care

For those foster children who age out of the system, the odds of them finding some sort of success in life are slim. Indeed, many foster children, when aging out, soon are confronted with dangerous and life threatening challenges. Foster parents can help to prevent many of these problems from arising in the first place by attending to some tasks while a child is in their care. As soon as a foster child is ready, begin teaching the child the fundamentals of personal financial responsibility by helping to develop simple money skills. Help the child by opening up and managing a personal bank account, as well as how to balance a budget. Allow a foster child to learn how to cook for himself. Teach the child how to clean and take care of a household and general first aid. Practice filling out job and college applications.

image by adamthelibrarian
There are many organizations across the US that offers opportunities to serving as a mentor. Some of these organizations can be found at the state and national level, while others may be through local foster agencies, churches, or even college programs. Mentoring will allow these former foster children not only a listening ear as they discuss the many challenges that they face, but wisdom and guidance during times of struggle.

Most foster children struggle with academics while in school. After school and college tutoring programs are helpful to those who have aged out, as they not only help the young adult with the material being studied, but also help to develop stronger study learning skills. As many aged out foster youth cannot afford school, assistance in this manner is most helpful. Communities can begin a foster scholarship fund, setting up a college fund for those foster children wishing to further their education. Supplies for school can be donated to local foster care agencies who work with children who will soon age out. These supplies can include paper, pencils, pens, calculators, backpacks, and other school needs and even book store gift certificates.

image by Kentucky Country Day
Along with school supply donations, household goods are also of great use to aged out youths. Clothes, cooking and bedding items, electrical appliances, furniture, and other household items can be donated to local foster care agencies. Contact the local foster care agency and enquire about being a transporter, one that provides transportation to aged out youth. As most former foster children struggle with money, it is likely that they will not have cars or means of transportation. Volunteers can help by providing transportation to job interviews, school venues, and medical appointments.

Contacting lawmakers, politicians, and publicity agents as an agent of change through means of emails, letters, and phone calls can bring attention to the needs of these young adults who are facing a series of challenges after leaving the foster care system. Along with this, these advocates of change can also post information in editorial letters, websites, public forums, and so forth. By lobbying for change, new laws can be introduced, and information can be brought forward to the general public.

With some skills and knowledge taught beforehand by foster parents and agencies, mentoring and assistance after they age out, foster teens will be better equipped to succeed as they enter into the adult world.



Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 11 years, and he and his wife have had over 30 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of the highly inspirational and bestselling book Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Story, and the upcoming book The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home. He also writes for a number of publications and newsletters, both here in the U.S. and overseas. Dr. DeGarmo can be contacted by email, through his Facebook page, or at his website.

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