About the Foster Care System
The ultimate aim of the U.S. foster care system is to provide temporary, safe living arrangements and therapeutic services for children who cannot reside safely at home due to neglect or for children whose parents are not able to provide adequate care. The goal of the U.S. foster care system is to safely reunify children with their parents or secure another permanent home. However, too often this goal is not achieved. Instead, many children spend years in foster homes and/or group homes, often moving multiple times. These children are at increased risk for a variety of emotional, behavioral, and academic problems.
About 10% of foster youth “age out” of the system (i.e., they reach age 18 or 21, depending on the state) and services end abruptly. California extends care up to age 21. While the Affordable Care Act ensures that health coverage continues until age 26, this end in services can create other challenges. A high percentage of youth who “age out” experience inadequate housing, low educational and career attainment, early parenthood, substance abuse, physical and mental health problems, and involvement with the legal system. Some of these problems may stem from their exposure to abuse/neglect and some may result from a lack of services (or service interruption) and systemic planning to equip youth with the skills and resources to successfully transition to adulthood.
The Opportunity Before Us
In response, Rays of Light Philanthropic desires to build “Rays Up to Live”, a highly structured, academically rigorous and well-supervised transitional living program for teens that age out of the foster care system. Rays Up to Live would offer short-term housing and guidance of a resident Life Coach to help build a productive and sustainable Life Road-map. To accomplish this goal, Rays of Light Philanthropic is planning to make significant investments in our resident’s educational goals, provide psychological support and spiritual guidance, equip them with basic skills for productive living and encourage them to come back and mentor their predecessors. Rays Up to Live residents will be required to complete our uniquely designed Life-Skills program, be employed and enrolled in an educational or vocational program, and contribute a portion of their income toward expenses and build a savings account. Rays Up to Live will be a vehicle that allows us to build a community of mentorship and change the world with love and hope as we release prepared young people into society to “Be a Blessing” to others.