KidsPeace knows that it can be an extremely difficult time for foster care children on the brink of aging out of the system.
Where will they go when they suddenly have independence thrust upon them? Will they pursue higher education or find work? Did anyone properly prepare them for the moment they would truly be on their own?
- Only 46 percent graduate from high school, and fewer than 2 percent complete college;
- Forty to 50 percent are homeless within 18 months of emancipation;
- Twenty-five percent are incarcerated within 24 months; and
- Forty-two percent (60 percent of females) become parents within 30 months of leaving
At KidsPeace, we realize the need to reach out to this population. This is why, in Maryland, we have the KEYS (KidsPeace Empowering Youth to Succeed) program, which aims to prepare foster children who are about to leave the haven of the system. They learn life skills like how to balance a checkbook, they explore their career and schooling options and they receive mentoring to help launch them successfully into the next phase of their lives.
But what about all the young adults who don’t have access to this program? It can be a scary time of transition. In June, the Long Island Children’s Museum, along with SalaamGarageNYC, unveiled an aging-out of foster care project entitled “Everybody Needs Someone.”
The storytelling exhibition runs through Sept. 2 and is intended to shed light on this often forgotten population. Photographs provide visitors a look at the struggles and triumphs of 15 young adults as they start their lives after foster care.
The museum is located at 11 Davis Ave. Garden City, N.Y. The exhibit is free with regular museum admission of $11, and visitors who have smart phones with QR reader applications will be able to read stories that accompany the photographs.