Crossnore Communities for Children is excited about the expansion of our Youth Independent Living (YIL) program. The vision of YIL is to support youth and young adults who are currently in or have aged out of the foster care system. We offer age-appropriate, normative assistance to build skills and connections in order to increase positive life outcomes and create resiliency.
A YIL Relaunch
Since the program’s launch earlier this year we have had a full YIL cottage – serving 16- to 21-year-old clients. One 18-year-old resident stated, “The YIL house feels like the first place I can truly call home. It’s a place where I feel supported and safe, which means a lot to me. I continue to learn independent skills that will be helpful for my future.”
With approximately 30% of all young people who age out of foster care experiencing homelessness before they turn 26, there continues to be a tremendous need within our communities. This is why Crossnore is stepping up to provide older youth with services; on and off campus housing, case management services, skill building workshops, and age appropriate programming.
Some of our skill building workshops have focused on goal setting and budgeting. Recent programming included an information session with Forsyth Tech regarding college readiness and resilience-building high ropes course activities. We also hosted a virtual event with Angela Quijada-Banks, author of The Black Foster Youth Handbook.
We are in the final stages of preparing a second YIL cottage on our Winston-Salem campus and two studio apartments. This will serve eight additional youths. Crossnore has also signed leases for two off-campus apartments, one of which is already occupied.
An Easier Way
Our current off-campus occupant came into a foster home within a few months prior to his 18th birthday. He had previously been AWOL from DSS custody. This teen managed to find and rent an apartment on his own prior to coming back into care. He was extremely independent for his age and already had two jobs while finishing high school. But it was a struggle. He needed to be able to finish high school without the strain of supporting himself.
His team worked tirelessly to develop his next plan for independence while he resided in the foster home. With a lot of work from this young man, his foster care, YIL, and DSS teams, he was able to successfully transition to a new apartment, living on his own. This time without so much financial pressure and stress. He is his own best advocate. And he’s excitedly worked towards achieving both his own apartment and his first car within a few months after graduating!
Crossnore has partnered with greeNest, a unique local program that provides essential household needs for agencies in Forsyth County with case management programs. Partnerships such as these help to stem the rise of homelessness and are a vital link to independent living. I personally feel so motivated being a part of a team who helps connect the dots for youth moving through our continuum of care. It’s a proud day when we can hand a young adult keys to their first apartment.
In our mountain region, a YIL coordinator is coming on board in October, and we’re hiring two residential advisors. This mirrors the same format as our Winston-Salem on-campus programming. In our western region, a YIL coordinator conducts virtual skill building sessions for youth in all three locations.
In the near future, with continued program expansion, Youth Independent Living staff within all three regions will be collaborating with each other for the betterment of our young adults and their trajectory to stability and independence.
To learn more about our YIL program, visit www.crossnore.org/yil. If you know a young adult who is aging out of foster care and might benefit from services, you can contact our Referrals & Admissions department at 866-892-6213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melissa Hurst is Crossnore’s Senior Director of Child Welfare.