Can you remember being 18 and fresh from high school graduation? Possibilities were endless and maybe a little scary. You were going off to college, or maybe a full time job, but wherever you were headed, for the immediate future, you had the family roof over your head and a place at the table.
Now, pretend you are a foster kid. You must erase the family roof and refrigerator raiding from your imaginings. You. Are. On. Your. Own.
Graduation is the milestone that removes children from foster care. That support system is gone. An option for them is to join the State of Delaware’s Independent Living Program managed through social service agencies. In the absence of parental guidance, counseling in life skills, personal development, and tuition may be provided. Based on need, some financial help may be available. And although this vital assistance is so very important, it is bare-bones. For a graduated foster kid, the prospect of finding housing (in today’s insane market), paying the security deposit, meeting monthly rent payments, buying food and clothing, may seem insurmountable.
Our organization, ILYA, (Independent Living for Young Adults) can help at this crucial time. We can ease the fears of those lions, and tigers, and bears. We can loan money for security deposits or emergencies. We can acknowledge the student’s accomplishments at a graduation party with a well-deserved pat on the back. The party will also include a PACK (backpack) on the back filled with self -care essentials.
Logically, the next step for the graduate is to find rental housing. A herculean task for sure. Once accomplished, we can furnish everything a young person will need to set up their kitchen and bathroom. (A bit of trivia here: The concept of the New Apartment Kit originated with the kids themselves in answer to “what do you need the most?”)
At the end of June, on June 24, we will be holding our annual drive-in/drop-off event for donations of goods. Stay tuned for details and for a link to the Sign-Up Genius listing of what is needed. And thank you for all of your generosity in previous years. ILYA spreads the word…..YOU make it happen.