Youth aging out of the foster care system at a rate of over 20,000 teens per year flood communities with individuals
who do not know where to turn for support and guidance. Many end up homeless, incarcerated or unemployed due to them
not having enough life skills to help them survive independently.
Most states stop all financial support, health care and food assistance at the age of 18 when a foster youth is
emancipated. If the youth are educated on what their state can provide for their well-being and self care, it
will be enough support to get them grounded and headed in the right direction for self-sufficiency and an independent
lifestyle. Over 75% of the youth leaving the foster care system have not been educated on community resources and
involvement to persevere. Programs should have someone that assists young people as they participate in the service
program and navigate a community’s system of benefits and social services, but instead they are left to fend for
An important factor to keep mind when engaging foster youth, is that they are no different than any other young person.
They deal with the same age old issues of adolescence – puberty, getting an education, and finding their place in the world.
The huge difference is the circumstance in which they come from in order to navigate the rituals of youth. They are involved
in a government system that is charged with providing them with the support that is traditionally provided by a parent,
guardian, or relative. This system, or more correctly systems, – group homes, foster homes, social services, Medicare,
child protective services, etc. – serve the role of parent. These young people have many adults in their lives that make
decisions for them and in some cases these decisions are made by adults who are over worked and underpaid. There is often
very little consistency in the child’s life because many move from foster home to foster home and some as many as a dozen
different homes during their stay in the system. In extreme cases, they could move as many 40 times in a five year period.
They likely have no strong family or community ties that are often the hallmarks of growing up. Community services provides
an opportunity for young people to have a role in their community where they are actively contributing to the common good
while developing life skills that will prove useful as they transition from system care to self-sufficiency.
Finding affordable rental housing is a significant challenge for youth aging out of the foster care system. They face
barriers such as the lack of savings for a security deposit, a poor or nonexistent credit history and the lack of a parent
or guardian to co-sign a lease on an apartment.
In addition, many of these youth do not have steady employment so they can not afford to pay rent. Thus the chance of
former foster youth ending up homeless for some period of time is high, and the need for permanent, affordable housing
is critical to help these youth transition into adulthood.
How ASCC Makes a Difference
In this module, ASCC will introduce the youth to key community resources. We actively participate with the youth in
setting up individual programs that will benefit them and their family. Every young person wants to have the chance
to be successful no matter what they are involved with. They hope to have the respect of the adults involved with the
activity and therefore able to be seen as equals within a group. They should be viewed as community assets and resources
that have direct experience and skills that can be applied to the service being conducted.
Our youth will understand how to use such key resources as the Department of Human Services to obtain knowledge about
food stamps, WIC, health benefits and medical insurance. They will also be shown the Department of Labor to assist with
job placement and how to apply unemployment. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is a resource that our youth
will be knowledgeable in assisting them with their housing needs.
Since many of the youth are of age, they will be introduced into the world of politics and receive a general overview of
how their voice can make a difference. ASCC will invite different politicians, not representing one party over another,
but to rather educate our youth on the impact their involvement can bring to the United States. They will have the opportunity
to register to vote and participate in an election if they so choose.
ASCC strongly believes that all youth need to learn that it is vital that they give back to the community that supports
them and guides them through. This is why we have our youth active with area volunteer agencies such as
Hands on Nashville
which recruits, educates, and coordinates a network of volunteers for diverse community service projects in Nashville.
For more information on the Community Resources & Involvement Program or any other ASCC Program, please contact us at 615-283-3013
or email us at