Most older children in foster care “age out” of the system without being adopted – a transition that leads to alarming rates of unemployment, homelessness, and incarceration. So DCFYI, working annually with 35-40 foster youth ages 12-21, makes sure they don’t have to face the world alone. Youth participants and adult volunteers come together in comfortable environments – over shared meals, in bowling alleys, at softball games. With DCFYI’s support, teens learn to trust, and adults see their stereotypes about foster youth melt away. Naturally, relationships develop: one-on-one mentorships, “host families” who welcome youth for regular weekend visits, and official adoptions. Since 2010, no participant has left foster care without a loving adult in his or her life, and 25 youth have been adopted. What does family mean to these kids? Asked on the day of his adoption, one participant responded: “Everything.”
Running totally counter to their ethos, group programming moved online during this difficult time. More recently, small, socially-distanced, in-person events have begun and at the same time teens and adults continue to engage virtually for advice, guidance, and a sense of belonging.