Almost twenty years ago Youth Villages began a program aimed at helping teens aging out of foster care.
The program is called YVLifeSet. The goal is to help people 17 to 22 to transition to independent adulthood in Memphis.
With little to no federal or state funding for programs for this age group, the program was funded almost entirely through donations.
“That is vital to our kids,” said YVLifeSet specialist Casey Falk. “We’re here for our clients and that sometimes means being available on the weekends.”
Falk says the program doesn’t just offer education and emotional support. Sometimes it’s financial.
“I’ve gotten calls where clients don’t have money for groceries,” said Falk. “They’re going to be calling for support and that’s what we’re here for.”
Youth Villages’ YVLifeSet specialists help young people develop and achieve their own goals for the future. They help participants create and maintain healthy relationships with family and others; secure housing; pursue educational and employment goals; access health and mental health services; and learn such independent living skills as budgeting, cooking, cleaning and shopping.
“Our program really is somewhat of a last option for them to get that support that they need,” said Falk. “This program helps them to be successful and survive.”
Since it began the YVLifeSet program has served more than 11,000 young adults.
It’s estimated 23,000 children each year turn 18 and age out of state custody.