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18 and Out of the System…… Sort Of – Picture a teenager leaving their latest foster home with just a bag of personal belongings. Now what?

At 18, a former foster child can opt into a state-run program called Independent Living. They will get a caseworker, maybe rent assistance and (if meeting criteria) a small stipend. Luckily, in Delaware, and if they qualify academically, they can go to a state supported post-secondary educational institution. Free. If the institution has dormitories they will be housed. If college is not in the cards, then they will need to find a job and housing. With (or without) a high school diploma, the job will likely be low paying.

That’s what these teenagers face with no family and very little financial support.

ILYA (Independent Living for Young Adults) is an all-volunteer group at First Unitarian that aspires to soften the blow for these kids. ILYA celebrates the tremendous achievement of graduation with them, letting them know that someone cares.

  • If they go to college, ILYA volunteers will periodically send “care packages.”
  • If they get an apartment, ILYA volunteers will collect items to set up a kitchen and bathroom.
  • If there is a pregnancy, ILYA volunteers will provide baby supplies.
  • If they struggle academically, ILYA volunteers will tutor.
  • And at holiday time, ILYA volunteers will provide a joyful, caring, gift package.

The post high school graduation years are crucial ones. Coming abruptly out of a regimented system into independence requires support. ILYA works closely with the IL caseworkers to fill the needs of the participants.

ILYA gratefully accepts donations at any time, but in the spring, they are honored by a Share-The-Plate offering on Sunday, April 7. Your donation on April 7th will allow ILYA to continue to provide a sense of value to these teenagers who do not have familial support. Please be generous. Today’s children are the future. Let’s give them every opportunity we can to have a productive life.