The Launch Pad, a new program aimed at youngsters exiting Foster Care at the age of 18, has been established by Hills-based charity Foster Care Angels.
Founder Kelly Doyle said that the charity was evolving to meet the desperate need to help young people who are “evicted” from out of home care once they turned 18.
The Launch Pad provides help with supported and subsidised housing, life skills training, counselling and mentoring for former foster kids until they are 25.
Mrs Doyle said while most teenagers looked forward to their 18th birthday it is often a traumatic time for young people in out of home care who have to leave the system the day they turn 18.
Mrs Doyle said researched showed: “In the 12 months following their eviction: 35% experience homelessness, 50% of boys and 20% of girls have contact with the justice system, 65% have not completed their HSC.
“Substance abuse, teen pregnancy and unemployment are also significantly higher in this cohort. Their outcomes are poor, 29 % are unemployed.”
Next month, the first four young people move into accommodation through The Launch Pad program.
“These young people have typically been “in care” for over 10 years and have no other form of support,” said Mrs Doyle. “The program is offered to boys and girls who have a desire to study or work, or a combination, but need a stable foundation.
“We also teach the young people essential life skills like financial literacy, healthy relationships, cooking and self-care, to equip them with the skills and confidence to thrive, rather than just survive.”
Foster Care Angels was started in 2011 by Kelly and her husband Glen who were foster carers but realised that there were things that needed to be done to make life less of a challenge for children living in out of home care.
As well as The Launch Pad, training program Foster Care Angels will continue to run A Maze In Mind course at Residential Care Facilities, the Christmas Drive, and an annual Carer Conference.
The charity is also planning to establish a social enterprise cafe in Penrith to provide training and employment pathways for the young people they are supporting.