Each year, more than 20,000 teens across the U.S. will age out of foster care without a permanent family. This national tragedy happens despite the focus on finding a permanent home for each child, whether that’s through a safe reunification with the child’s birth family or through adoption.
These youth, sometimes called “emerging youth,” are less likely to graduate from high school, go to college and have a system of support that will ensure safety and success in their future. Even more, studies show that teens aging out of foster care face a higher probability of ending up in jail or homeless. Life can be quite a struggle for these young adults, making resources that help in this time of transition a necessity.
KVC Kansas offers independent living services to help these youth successfully transition to adulthood. Its parent organization, KVC Health Systems, is also in the process of creating the nation’s first ever college for youth emerging from foster care. The specialized college will combine training in high-demand career fields with behavioral health support.
Now, a new program is available to help youth in the Kansas City area who may soon age out of foster care. The Emerging Leaders Fellowship program is designed to equip young adults with essential skills to overcome hardships and learn how to plan for the future. It’s unique because it was founded by a young woman who aged out of foster care and later achieved academic and career success. Danya Turkmani now wants to help youth in a similar situation through this 10-month program supported by community partners and philanthropic support.
What will young adults gain from being a student in this program?
- Advice and guidance from someone who shares similar unique experiences
- A solid plan and a set, repeatable process on how to reach goals
- Mentoring and a support system that extends beyond completion of program
- The peace of mind of knowing you have control of your future and exactly what is to come (what will my future look like? How can I change my outcomes?)
This program will not just tell young adults what they need to do to reach their dreams but will show how to get there.
What can one expect from this program?
- A highly interactive and engaging curriculum
- A learning environment where students will be respected, valued, and heard
- The tools, instruction, and access to resources that an emerging youth wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and
What is the time commitment?
- Once a month for 10 months, students will meet with peers and instructors for a workshop that involve hands-on approaches to individual plans.
- There are 3 sections focusing on various topics. Each section is 3 months long, with the tenth and last session reserved for a graduation and party.
Once completed, students will walk away with a plan for the future, a support system of peers who can be engaged with even after completing the program and a network of people who can help you accomplish your goals.