We all know entering adulthood can be difficult. But becoming an adult after growing up in the care of Child Protective Services (CPS), comes with a whole set of other challenges. Despite that, Justin continues to persevere with the help of ACH’s LIFE Project, a Supervised Independent Living program.
Youth aging out of the foster care system are often overlooked. These children come from hard places, like Justin, and are expected to face adulthood without a support system.
“That’s something your typical young adult doesn’t have to worry about,” said Transitions Program Manager, Nick Little. “This population needs caring adults in their lives as well.”
Justin reflected on his past foster homes and what he needed to prepare for adulthood.
“I’ve seen the difference between a home where the parents care about helping kids and others where you’re just in the house, doing your own thing,” said Justin.
The LIFE Project offers support and guidance for foster youth ages 18-21. The program assists them with finding and maintaining employment, enrolling in school, learning how to create structure for themselves, and other necessary adulthood skills.
“We help them get used to thinking about all this on their own,” Nick adds, “But it’s also learning the more difficult concepts, like how to have appropriate relationships.”
The LIFE Project helps community clients as well, who find themselves homeless or couch surfing, with really no place to go. But most clients are young adults who decided to stay in extended foster care after turning 18.
Since joining The LIFE Project, Justin thinks about how far he’s come with the help of staff mentors like Thad McCall.
“Mr. Thad found out I didn’t have an I.D., so I wasn’t able to get any jobs. Within two weeks of being here, he made sure I had one,” he recalled. “I’m legally an adult. He could’ve told me to figure it out on my own, but he didn’t, and I just really appreciated that.”
Justin believes the LIFE Project has allowed him to see how much he can succeed and plan where he wants to be, not just months from now but years down the line. He hopes one day to become self-sufficient as an entrepreneur and have the family of his dreams.
May is National Foster Care Month. Learn more about the foster youth we serve in our podcast. If you like what you hear, please be sure to rate and review. You can advocate for young adults like Justin by sharing this podcast with a friend.
Hear Justin’s full story here: