A COLLABORATION WITH THE BETTER HOUSING COALITION
The Possibilities Project is a new initiative of Children’s Home Society of Virginia, a 119-year-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 new initiative is a multi-faceted approach to systemic change that includes: 1) Identifying national best practice programs and policies 2) Launching a new and innovative program based in research and best practices for young people ages 18 to 25 who have aged out of foster care and 3) 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 nothing—no permanent housing, no job options, no education, no transportation, and no life skills. Like most 18-year-olds, 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 50th of the 50 states for the rate children age out of foster care.
OUR GOAL: TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF VIRGINIA’S CHILDREN 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 these at-risk 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.
A TRANSFORMATIONAL OPPORTUNITY FOR THE RICHMOND REGION AND BEYOND
The Possibilities Project Research and Advocacy Initiative began with the goal of developing the best services, settings, and policies to support and lift this vulnerable population. We have conducted a national study with Child Trends, a nationally recognized research firm, to learn how other states are successfully addressing the challenges faced by these young people. At the same time, we have launched a new research-based program to provide local young people with housing and critical trauma-informed wraparound social supports.
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.