VentureON, a Path of Life for Young Adults Aging Out of Foster Care.
What happens when a private child care organization partners with businesses, churches and government to create a new model of care? For Sunrise, the result is VentureON a groundbreaking continuum of care for kids who age out of the foster care system at 18. The vision of Sunrise’s president, Dale Suttles, VentureON officially launched in Paducah in 2015, with plans to expand to Louisville and Lexington in 2016. The Paducah program is already at capacity, with a waiting list.
“Youth who age out of the foster care or residential system at age 18 find themselves without the necessary support and guidance they need to become successful adults,” said Suttles. “Planning and preparing for independent living, providing connections to safe and stable adults, and continuing education through college or technical school are all things every young adult deserves. But for our kids, there was no one to help them after they left the foster care system. We’re working with these young adults to create their own path of life, just like we would do for our own children.”
While major strides have been made in the field of youth development, older youth have frequently been overlooked by policymakers and practitioners who have been more focused on designing programs and services for adolescents and young children. Because older youth face a unique set of challenges as they move into adulthood, it’s important to identify new strategies that will enhance the development and success of these individuals as they move into adulthood.
To demonstrate the full scope of the problem, national research conducted by the Jim Casey Youth organization, showed:
- More than one in five will become homeless after age 18
- 50% will not be employed at age 24
- 42% will not graduate high school or earn a GED
- Less than 3% will earn a college degree
- 71% of young women will become pregnant by age 21, facing higher rates of unemployment, criminal conviction, public assistance and involvement in the child welfare system
- One in four will be involved in the justice system within two years of leaving the foster care system
“At Sunrise, we’re determined. We will change these statistics, one young adult at a time,” promised Suttles.
To see the impact of VentureON, please watch Jessie’s video.
Written by Claudia Eggleton, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at Sunrise Children’s Services.