Electronically published journal article, but not part of an issue
This article describes an innovative program that connects teens in foster care with supportive adults through social events that can lead to meaningful, long-term, teen-adult connections, including friendships, mentoring, and adoption. More than 400,000 children are in foster care in the U.S., with more than 100,000 of them waiting to be adopted. Yet many will age out of foster care into adulthood without an adoptive family. Teens and young adults aging out of foster care, even those with preparation and training for the transition, often do not fare well in young adulthood. Many face challenges in areas of education, employment, homelessness, finances, the criminal justice system, and meeting health and mental healthcare needs. The Washington, DC, Family and Youth Initiative helps youth ages 12 to 21 in foster care find stable adult relationships through regular teen-adult social events, host family visits, advocacy, and outreach. The program involves a cadre of adult volunteers and monthly social events. Research demonstrates that teens with tangible support from meaningful adult relationships fare better than those without. Pediatric nurses, aware of the challenges these teens face adjusting to adulthood, can begin to explore referral and support options for such teens in their own locales using resources provided in this article.
Maryland University of Integrative Health, Laurel, MD