A COLLABORATION WITH THE BETTER HOUSING COALITION
The Possibilities Project is a collaboration between the Children’s Home Society of Virginia, a 120year-old adoption agency committed to building lifelong relationships for at-risk youth, and the Better Housing Coalition, a community development organization that provides high-quality, affordable housing and helps build vibrant communities.
This initiative is a multi-faceted approach to systemic change that includes:
- utilizing national best practice programs and policies
- implementing youth led innovative programs based in research and best practices for young people ages 18 to 25 who have aged out of foster care
- galvanizing partners and advocates for statewide systems change.
The challenge: 500 children “age out” of Virginia foster care each year
Each year, about 500 young people “age out” of Virginia’s foster care system and are sent into the world with little to no supports—no permanent housing, no job options, no education, no transportation, and no life skills. Like most young adults, they’re not prepared to be fully on their own. Their challenges are compounded by histories of abuse, abandonment, and instability.
The outcomes are devastating:
- Within two years, 1 in 4 will be incarcerated, 1 in 5 will be homeless, and fewer than 1 in 6 graduate from high school.
- They also face higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, and more.
- Virginia is ranked 49th of the 50 states for the rate children age out of foster care.
However, youth in our program have changed the narrative; in the last two years:*
*January 2018-January 2020
“Youth who have participated in The Possibilities Project have accomplished incredible things that include; completing their Associate’s Degrees, Bachelor’s Degree, college certifications and vocational trainings. They have gone on to become CNAs, Medical Technicians, Security Officers and valued employees at fortune 500 companies.”
Our goal: transforming the lives of Virginia’s young people who “age out”
We know that opening doors to youth aging out of foster care will make a positive, life-changing impact and create a new path to possibilities for young people. We believe that surrounding these young people with the supports they need to thrive, while teaching, guiding, coaching and challenging them will help them to develop into successful, independent adults.
Transforming the Richmond Region and beyond
The Possibilities Project Research and Advocacy Initiative was established because we recognize the need for systemic change on both the policy and administrative fronts in order to improve the outcomes of children and youth who in the foster care system. We embrace the best practice principle that those who will be impacted by system changes as well as community-wide stakeholders should be a part of influencing that change. Therefore, we brought together a Panel of Experts, including youth in The Possibilities Project program, to identify policy recommendations that will better improve the life outcomes of youth who have aged out of foster care and also reduce the number of youth who age out of foster care. Co-chaired by Senator Favola (D – 31st district) and Delegate Peace (R – 97th district), the panel included local, state and national experts in areas such as housing, employment, education, financial literacy, and health care and mental health. The panel has identified 40 policy recommendations that include legislative, administrative and community-based initiatives. With the policy recommendations identified by the community, we will continue our work to implement these recommendations throughout the state. Learn more about our advocacy work here. Contact Cassie Cunningham, Policy Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 353-0191 ext. 334 to get involved with our advocacy work.
The Possibilities Project Program invests in youth aging out of foster care and changes the trajectory of their lives. We have developed a permanent housing and best practices-based support program to serve as a replicable model for this region, Virginia, and other states around the country. Our innovative approach empowers youth ages 18 to 25 who have aged out of Virginia’s foster care system without being adopted. We provide these young people with critical supports and housing to assist them as they develop into independent and engaged community members.
The Possibilities Project has been made possible through generous contributions of forward-thinking foundations and compassionate people just like you. Please help us to continue changing lives by supporting The Possibilities Project.