About the Foster Care System
The goal of the US 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 ultimate aim of the US Foster Care System is to safely reunite children with their parents or secure a 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 embattlement 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 into adulthood.
The Opportunity Before Us
In response, Rays of Light Philanthropic desires to build “Rays Up 2 Live”, a highly structured, academically rigorous and well-supervised transitional living program for teens that age out of the foster care system. Rays Up 2 Live would offer short-term, curriculum-based housing and guidance of a resident Life Coach to help build a productive and sustainable Life Roadmap. 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, equipping them with basic skills for productive living and encouraging them to come back and become mentors themselves. There could be no greater encourager than someone who has overcome the hurdles another faces. Rays Up 2 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, as well as being expected to build a healthy savings account. Rays Up 2 Live will be a vehicle that allows us to build a community of mentorship and ultimately, change the world with love and hope as we release prepared young people into society to “Be a Blessing” to others!