From Foster Care to Self-Reliant Young Adults — How?

We have a problem in our society.  When a foster care child reaches age 18 they are dumped out of the system.  Most of these young adults lack the skills to be self-reliant.  By age 24, only 1 out of every 5 will be self-sustaining and one out of three will have experienced homeless.  Only 2% will graduate from college.  About 30,000 young adults “age out” of foster care every year on our country.

Eric & Kara Gilmore

Eric and Kara Gilmore offer a solution.  I met them last night.  They have formed an organization called Immerse Arkansas (they’re located in Little Rock).  They offer “transitional coaching” to help these young adults relationship skills so they can make it.  They emphasize the importance of a relationship with God, with self, with community and with the world around them.  I was impressed by their persons-helping-persons approach.  “Good neighbors are much better than good projects and a whole lot cheaper.”

Transitions are always difficult.  But without a helping hand to take that step from foster care to independent living, most will not make it.  With help, they can become contributory members of society.  Without help, they may become a drain on society.  Immerse Arkansas could use your help.  Visit their website to learn more.  They’re operating on a shoestring budget and would be greatly encouraged by your financial support.  You can donate financially by clicking on the link at the bottom of Eric’s blog.

A related  book on helping young people make this transition is an old (but good) one: “Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People” by Stephen Glenn.  But books don’t get the job done.  They simply help people to be more effective in helping people.

While I was listening to Eric and Kara talk, I was reminded of the ancient command by God to

“walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart . . . and He executes justice for the orphan . . .” Deuteronomy 10:12-20

And in the New Testament, James reminds us

“pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

I’d love to see this organization get solidly established in Little Rock  and then become a model to spread across the country.  No one person can do it all, but every person can do something.  Let’s help them  build.

Addendum 11/23/12: Following their inaugural fundraising banquet, Keith released this video:

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3 Responses to From Foster Care to Self-Reliant Young Adults — How?

  1. Raising Self Reliant Children…

    […] t of every 5 will be self-sustaining and one out of three will have experienced […]…

  2. Heather G says:

    I have a friend who turned 18 and got dumped from foster care. She was with very loving foster parents but they weren’t allowed to keep her after she turned 18 because they had other foster children in the house and there are rules about having “unrelated adults” living in your house if you have foster kids.

    She was a christian; she ended up bouncing around from house to house in the church I was hanging out with – no one really WANTED her in their house long term, but would let her stay with them for a few weeks so she didn’t end up on the streets. One family I talked to said they’d let her stay there till she got a job in a few weeks and could get her own apartment. I was like, “WHAT??” I mean, what 18 year old female can get a job right out of highschool that will allow them in a matter of weeks to pay for an apartment and electricity and food and…not to mention that this girl didn’t even have a driving license or a car and we live in a rural area…

    I talked to her about her future. I asked her about college. Aparrently, even though her grades were decent, no one in her life had ever talked to her about college so she thought college was for “other people.” We got her enrolled in school where at least she had a place to live and a chance at creating her own future. I wish I could say the story ends happily there, but it doesn’t. She ended up dropping out of college because of social issues, and by that point she had cut almost all of the older voices out of her life. I still hold out hope for her though – hopefully she’ll get back in school after working on some of her emotional stuff. Anyway, all that to say, I really see the need for this type of outreach. Count me in.

    • leejagers says:

      Praise God for your caring and concern. I know Eric and Kara would be VERY encouraged by your support of them. I think God has a special place in His heart for those in our society who have the least advantage and therefore a special place for those like you who are touched by their situation and inclined to get involved. Blessings, Dr. J.

      Dr. Lee Jagers Director of Counseling Services Dallas Theological Seminary 3909 Swiss Avenue Dallas, Texas 75204 214-382-3902 e-mail: ljagers@dts.edu Blog: http://www.leejagers.wordpress.com

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