Teens Aging Out Of Foster Care Need Your Help

CBS4 Neighbor 4 Neighbors

MIAMI (CBS4) ― Marking an 18th birthday is often described as a rite of passage in a person's transition toward adulthood. But for teens in foster care, celebrating an 18th birthday can mean fear, not freedom.

"The challenge was with the different foster parents," said 18-year old Farrah. "Like the way you know they treated some of the kids, I felt like some of them weren't there. You know, some of them wasn't there for the kids."

On their 18th birthday children in foster care in Florida age out of the system and start to live independently for the first time.

"They have to become self supporting very fast," said Elizabeth Wyntor with the United Way.

"Because of the multiple foster care placements, they've been in a large number of different schools. So they often have an educational deficit. And they've experienced abuse, usually severe repeated maltreatment," said Sharon Katz with Casa Valentina, a residential and support services program that addresses the unique gender-specific needs of young women transitioning from foster care.

Handling emotional hurdles are not the only challenges the teens will come across. With the skyrocketing cost of living in South Florida, even a monthly stipend from the state isn't enough to make ends meet.

In both Miami Dade and Broward counties those transitioning out of the system are eligible for a "Road to Independence" scholarship. In Miami Dade, teens who age out of the system receive $829 per month, in Broward the amount is $1,014 per month.

Teens in Miami Dade receive a lower amount because the county has a higher number of young men and women leaving foster care each year, putting a strain on an already under-funded program.

The amount of the scholarship is based on the minimum wage and there are conditions the teens must meet to be eligible to receive the funds. They have to be in school, receive good grades and be in foster care when they turn 18 years old.

"With the budget cuts, there's talk in the legislature of cutting their very meager stipend of $829 a month," said Katz. "Not only do they need that, but they need more to be successful, to be in school, to work and function in society."

Recent budget cuts are causing some agencies to look for other ways to help.

"You know if you're a business owner, offer them jobs," said Wyntor, "if you have an apartment empty, offer them a place to stay. Just a low cost and safe place. If you have furniture to donate, we'll take it."

"It was difficult because I wasn't ready to turn 18 and live all on my own," said Janet De Las Cuevas. "In foster care most people have someone to take care of them, so being all on your own is a little scary."

CBS4 Neighbors 4 Neighbors is looking to help these young adults with their next step. If you'd like to help, call the Neighbors 4 Neighbors hotline at (305) 597-4404 and donate to our gift card collection. We'll be helping these young adults settle into their first homes with gift cards to local supermarkets and stores.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)



So I thought since we have such a vast network here, that perhaps there are those who can help some of these teens in this area. Others can help by donating to the gift card collection by CBS 4. It's hard enough for someone with a support system to start out in life on their own, for these kids it is even  harder.

Please vote popular so more people can see this to help.


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Jun. 2, 2008 at 9:11 AM  These kids are our future and we need to help them while they're young, before their spirit is totally broken. Thats the only way they can become productive members of society. Not homeless, criminals, or constantly pregnant living off the system. Alot of girls and boys end up living a life of prostitution when faced with nowhere to live or food to eat. And think of all the poor babies that could be a product of a bad situation, thus continuing the vicious cycle. I am very strapped right now, but I will donate something to this very worthy cause.

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