Were you ready to live on your own when you turned 18? Were you required to find—and pay for—your own housing, utility bills, and groceries? Probably not. But that’s the position that more than 25,000 18-year olds are put in each year when they age out of the foster care system.
By the time these very young adults turn 26, 40 percent will have experienced homelessness, 20 percent will not have a high school diploma, and a staggering 43 percent of females and 74 percent of males will have been incarcerated.
That’s why we launched My First Place™, a nationally-recognized education and employment program, to offer intensive case management support in housing, employment, and education to support youth as they gradually transition to self-sufficiency. Developed nearly two decades ago by First Place for Youth, a California-based nonprofit, My First Place™ has a strong track record of supporting at-risk foster youth at a critical time in their lives when they need to learn to support themselves.
Our program is delivered by a comprehensive team—consisting of a Youth Advocate, an Education and Employment Specialist, and a Housing Specialist—who support each young person to identify, plan for, and work towards achieving their personal long-term goals in education, employment, housing, and healthy living.
A 2021 independent study of youth assisted by services provided by My First Place™ found that each year of intensive support given to a former foster youth is associated with a 28 percent decrease in homelessness, 41 percent decrease in odds of being arrested, and an eight percent increase in the probability of graduating from high school.
We are incredibly grateful to the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation for its recent donation of $50,000 and to the Fish Family Foundations for its donation of $10,000 to support our My First Place™ program.