Local News

Working together, agencies help youth transition from foster care to independence

Posted November 10, 2015 12:15 p.m. EST
Updated November 10, 2015 7:16 p.m. EST

— A group of non-profit organizations in the Triangle is teaming together to help teens aging out of the foster care system transition to independent living.

Under the banner of "Fostering Youth Opportunities," the collaborative approach organized by the United Way of the Greater Triangle proves there is power in numbers.

“Instead of having them navigate a really complex system, all of our service providers are coming together and offering our services to the young person," said Irene Godinez, of the United Way. "That way they can have everything that they need in one place.”

Fostering Youth Opportunities brings together aid organizations as diverse as Wake Tech Community College, Durham's Life Skills Foundation and the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness.

“It used to be that they had to go to one agency to get food, another to get transportation and that’s really tough when you’re 18 years old to navigate all of that," said Stacy Bluth, executive director of The Hope Center.

Fostering Youth Opportunities allows for a single touchpoint to help young people overcome hurdles like finding jobs and housing and to answer the little questions like Stephanie Means' worry about where to call home during spring or fall break.

“Everybody wants to feel that they have someone to go to or that family member to go to, but we all don’t," Means said. "Where do you go? This is our family.”

Godinez says the collaboration has helped individual agencies better leverage their ability to help.

“We feel that by working together, we can accomplish a lot more and make finite resources go even further,” she said.

With the help of groups like The Hope Center, Means is now going to school during the day and working two part-time jobs at night. She’ll graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in two years.