BRIDGES (Building Resourceful Individuals Destined for Greatness by Establishing Support) is a program aimed at reaching young adults who have aged out of the foster care system or are in the process of doing so. The goal is to provide support in various capacities during the transition from teenager to adulthood. Where many young adults have the support of their parents and families, foster youth who have aged out may only have a limited support system developed while in care.
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According to the semiannual child welfare report released this year, 366 children reached age of majority or aged out of the foster care system between April and September of 2013.(3) Approximately 600 young adults age out of the Arizona foster care system annually.
There are several programs established to assist those who age out of foster care in Arizona including TILP (Transitional Independent Living Program) through Arizona Children’s Association and YAP (Young Adult Program/Independent Living) through the state of Arizona.(4) These programs assist with expenses, housing, and counseling among other things.
Even with the existing programs and resources, a gap exists in services. Young adults who age out of the Arizona foster care system often lack basic essentials like bedding, dishware, and toiletries to assist them in transitioning into their own households.
Young adults aging out of the foster care system who continually face a lack of stability and support are subject to homelessness and criminal activity which can negatively impact the surrounding community.
Goal 1 of BRIDGES is to effectively provide starter home kits to young adults who age out of the foster care system. Providing these kits during the transition from state care can help to establish increased stability.
Goal 2 of BRIDGES is to empower and inspire young adults by assisting in establishing a home environment. This can make the transition smoother and more positive while increasing chances of success.
Goal 3 of BRIDGES is to grow and expand throughout the state of Arizona. This will enable the projected benefits of the program to reach a greater number of young adults. Goal met as of November 2014!
Goal 4 of BRIDGES is to reach 10-20% of Arizona’s aged out, young adult population in FY 14/15. This equates to approximately 120 individuals. At this time, 30 packages have been assembled!
StrangersWeKnow is on a mission to, not only raise awareness about young adults aging out of foster care, but also to reach the youth by providing care packages and starter home kits to them. Spread the word about the program and issues facing young adults leaving foster care. Do an item drive and prepare packages for the young adults in your community or donate items to StrangersWeKnow to be packaged and given away. Be a mentor! There are so many ways to get involved. The key is to get out there and do it :)
List of Items
StrangersWeKnow is continuously collecting new and used items to be given away. We ask that you start in your home first. Gently used, working items selected from within your own home have the added value of being hand picked and personally considered by you before being given. If you have extra towels, sheets, blankets, shower curtains, pots, pans, etc at your home and can spare one, please consider donating.
Here is a short list of used items that would helpful to the BRIDGES Program.
Here is a list of new/originally packaged items that would be helpful to BRIDGES: