Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Young Adults (20-25 years)
Fostering Adulthood addresses the unique needs of children in foster care as they "age out" of the child welfare system, with a goal to help them transition into adulthood and productive citizenship. As many as half of children in foster care end up homeless within two years of leaving the system. We level the playing field for these kids by creating a healthy support system of adult volunteers and businesses and agencies who can work together to create a relationships-driven network to help them launch into adulthood.
*Approximately 70 teens and young adults are expected to age out in El Paso County. Statistically, as many as half could end up in jail or homeless within two years. Many more would be unemployed or underemployed. Fostering Hope is reversing these outcomes in a big way. Almost all kids have graduated or attained a GED, about half are in college and most are employed. A recent study found for every $1 spent we generate $3 in return to the community.
*Our long-term vision is to change the generational trajectory for these teens and young adults, essentially turning off the spigot for some of these broader societal issues.
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
Infants/Young Children (birth - 3 years)
The Fostering Hope program recruits, trains, and supports teams of volunteers from faith communities to assist and support foster parents in caring for foster children - especially those children with lower probability of adoption due to age, physical or mental disabilities, and behavioral or social problems. The objective is to increase the likelihood of a more successful outcome for these traumatized children as they "age-out" or emancipate from the foster care system, by providing a more stable and enriched environment while with their foster families.
The Fostering Hope Program facilitates partnerships between faith communities, which provide volunteer teams, and Child Placement Agencies working with the Dept. of Human Services, who help us find foster families who need our help. The goal is to provide a protective, safe, healing, and challenging environment for children in the home, to support their development as responsible, competent adults.
Volunteer teams function as quasi-extended family for a given foster family. Some of the many things team members do:
? transport children to appointments and parental visitations.
? tutor children.
? involve children in athletic and recreational activities.
? mentor life skills such as budgeting, job hunting and housing.
? build relationships and connections for the family within the business, faith and civic communities.
? assist with household maintenance and meals.
Moreover, they become a support group for foster parents, typically becoming their friends and relief from the loneliness and social isolation they often experience.
A coordinator with an advanced degree in social work provides the necessary coordination, training, coaching, consultation, and troubleshooting services for the teams, foster parents, and faith communities. They are the link to the rest of the foster care system. Each coordinator works with 12 to 15 volunteer teams.
Our goal is to provide stability (a clear, consistent, and predictable life pattern), enrichment (healthy and productive relationships, activities, and developmental experiences that are typical of functional families; more opportunities to relate to caring, dependable adults who have their best interests at heart), and community (developing healthy adult and peer networks within the civic community; building relationships with future mentors, friends, and employers who will give support and "hands up" assistance once they age-out) to each child in foster care and to ensure foster parents persist in their task of fostering these neglected and abused children.
Currently 19 congregations from El Paso County are participating in the Fostering Hope program. One to three teams have been developed within each congregation, totaling more than 120 volunteers. Each team actively provides support and assistance to a foster family. Currently 24 foster couples and more than 80 children benefit from the program.
* Because there are more children who are neglected and abused than foster families who can take them, there is constant risk for foster families to become overtaxed and burned out. However, foster parents with support from Fostering Hope volunteers persist longer and are more nurturing, ensuring more stability for children.
* Our foster-to-adoption rate is nearly three times higher compared to the local child welfare system as a whole. We believe that's because the extra support provided to foster families with the day-to-day challenges enables them to "fall in love" with these kids. Many of these families never intended to adopt and are creating permanent homes for some of the most challenging children.
* While data collection is still underway in order to prove what we've observed from individual cases, it appears that children in foster care who are supported by Fostering Hope may have a better experience in school and are graduating at a higher rate compared to those who don't.
* The community's support for foster care and the role of foster parents is improved and positive, based on tracking and surveys.
* More people within the community seek out becoming foster parents and contribute to caring for children who can be extremely challenging.
* With this additional nurturing and support of an "extended family", children in foster care appear to have better outcomes than what is currently the case for most children in foster care (currently, of children who age out of foster care, half become homeless within 6 months of leaving the foster home; boys are highly likely to be incarcerated, and girls are highly likely to become pregnant).