~ A post from Brett A. Loftis, JD, CEO
As I look back on what it was like to be 18 and emerging into adulthood, I often remember the hard lessons and painful processes I went through to learn all that I needed to be successful in adulthood. Like me, many of us also had a sufficient support system so we were not traveling that road alone. Children who age out of the foster care system at age 18 often don’t have that support. For too long, the standard in foster care has been to release a student at the age of 18…release them into the wide, wide world of adulthood with little to no additional support.
On October 1, 2015, the landscape of foster care changed with a unanimous vote in both the NC House and Senate to raise the age of foster care to 21. The new bill signed into law by NC Governor Pat McCrory allows students to remain in foster care for three more years gaining valuable experience and resources as they learn to live independently. The law has requirements for education and employment, while allowing students to live in campus housing or other approved housing, with monthly supervision by their county DSS.
Much like we don’t let a child cross the street unattended, we are no longer letting young adults go without a helping hand.
For any parent, it’s a “trust fall” to let your kids go. But for these kids especially, we have to be willing to walk that extra mile in their shoes. It will take vision, planning, money, and an investment of time and love. Without that help, the stats are pretty dismal:
- nearly 25% will become homeless after age 18
- just over half will actually complete high school, compared to nearly 90% of all 19-year olds
- 70% of young women will become pregnant
- fewer than 2% earn a college degree
- 25% will be involved with the justice system by the age of 20
The Crossnore School currently works with this population of young adults through our Miracle Scholars program. Miracle Scholars provides continued support to students after high school, whether they have gone on to community college, four-year college, or are working. Some of our Miracle Scholars have chosen to attend Mayland Community College and reside in The Crossnore School’s Phillips House in Spruce Pine, NC. All of these young adults receive housing, coaching for employment, assistance with transportation, and independent living skills training, with minimal supervision.
They are living life on their own but with a soft place to land.
Although it’s a small program at this point, I am always excited to witness the success these students have experienced at Crossnore continue into their adult lives. And we are looking at ways to expand this program in order to help more students, because we know they are better prepared to face the future with us standing by their side.
For more information about the programs of The Crossnore School, contact Angelina Spencer, Chief Program Officer, at 828-733-4305 or firstname.lastname@example.org.