When Ethan first enrolled in the Keys to Success (KTS) program last August, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life after graduation. He considered going to college, but didn’t know how to explore his options or what he needed to do apply to schools he might be interested in attending. With the support of his KTS career development specialist (CDS) and his group home staff, Ethan decided to apply to all the in-state schools with the goal of attending a four-year university.

Big Steps, Big Challenges

Ethan eventually decided that the University of Arizona was the right choice for his post-secondary education. His CDS helped him to enroll and to become a member of the Fostering Success program on the campus. She also helped him get involved in U of A’s New Start summer program, which allows new scholars to begin taking classes the summer before their first fall semester begins.

Like so many older youth in foster care, one of Ethan’s biggest challenges to overcome was housing. As a tribal member, he wasn’t part of the state foster care program and wouldn’t benefit from Extended Foster Care. His CDS and group home worked quickly to brainstorm different options, as he needed to move out by his 18th birthday in mid-July.

Overcoming Barriers

As soon as they submitted his application for the New Start program, Ethan’s CDS reached out to the program to explain his urgent need for housing. As a result, the program prioritized his application. Not only is Ethan taking summer classes, but he also has housing until the fall semester begins. He also successfully applied for scholarships offered through his Tribe’s education department and AFFCF Post-Secondary program to help fund his college education.

Additionally, Ethan has been working with his KTS employment development specialist to create employment goals. To help him prepare for future employment, he obtained a cellphone, set up a bank account and completed job readiness training.

Achieving Goals

Despite the challenges he has faced along the way, and with the support of his KTS team, Ethan already has achieved many of his goals. He loves living in Tucson and is excited to fully begin his college journey this fall.

For any young person, the transition to adulthood comes with significant challenges and changes. Youth aging out of foster care without any familial support face even more barriers that can prevent a successful transition. In fact, according to research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation:

  • 30% of youth aging out of care will not have a high school diploma or equivalent by age 21.
  • More than 1 in 5 youth experience homelessness between the ages of 17 and 19 years of age.
  • More than 1 in 4 youth experience homelessness between the ages of 19 and 21 years.

Invaluable Support

Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation’s Keys to Success program is designed specifically to help young people ages 16 to 26 who are transitioning out of foster care receive the career, education, employment development and life skills services they need to achieve personal and financial liberty. KTS staff deliver services in the community based on the youth’s availability, making it an invaluable one-of-a-kind program.

Help young people in foster care face the challenges of aging out of foster care head on by donating to AFFCF. Doing so not only contributes to positive outcomes for this underserved population, but also gives you a dollar-for-dollar credit on your Arizona state taxes, up to $1,051 for couples and $526 for individuals. You win. Kids win. Give today!

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