Paradise was one of the first youth to participate in the Keys to Success program back in 2014. When she enrolled in Keys to Success, she was 17 and expecting her first child. She wasn’t going to school and was far behind in credits. She lived in a group home and did not have a job, but she dreamed of creating a brighter future for herself and her daughter. She just had no idea how she would get there.
Connecting the Dots
Being in the Keys to Success program allowed Paradise to connect to services and resources that would help her move forward to create a better life for herself and her child. She took advantage of the many opportunities available to her through Keys to Success:
- Education assistance (GED tutoring and testing; enrollment in Mesa Community College, assistance finding financial aid to pay for school)
- Job assistance (via partnership with Banner Health)
- Connecting to KTS partner Furnishing Dignity for help setting up her first apartment
- Paying for driver’s education and assistance getting her first car through a partnership with a local church
- Regular meetings with KTS staff to support her goals to support achievement of her long-term goals
In 2020, Paradise and her now seven-year-old daughter moved to Houston, where she works for the county juvenile probation program. She plans to attend Sam Houston State University to study criminal justice. They continue to thrive, building on the support Paradise received through the Keys to Success program.
Facing the Odds
According to the National Conference of State Legislators, young people who age out of care at 18 tend to face more challenges than their peers, including homelessness, poverty, lack of education, unemployment or involvement in the criminal justice system.
More than 900 youth will age out of foster care in Arizona alone this year. Investing in their successful transition from foster care to adulthood makes our communities stronger and better. Empowering this underserved population can break the cycles of intergenerational poverty, family violence and the trauma that results, so they can be actively engaged, productive members of our community.
Creating Meaningful Change
As the only program of its kind in Arizona, Keys to Success addresses the unique needs and challenges facing young people as they exit foster care and enter adulthood. We create systemic change at its root, one youth at a time by delivering intensive, individualized career planning, education and employment development services, as well as life skills services.
Keys to Success eliminates transportation barriers that typically prevent youth in care from receiving the support they need, bringing all program services to youth, wherever they are in the community. The work we do day-to-day has also become a tool for advocacy and created statewide policy and legislation changes that have had a meaningful impact on the lives of all youth in foster care.
Investing and Strengthening Community
By donating to Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, not only are you investing in young people, like Paradise, but you’re also investing in strengthening your community. Your gift can also qualify for the Arizona Foster Care Tax Credit. When you donate by the 2022 tax filing deadline, you can apply the tax credit toward your 2022 state taxes. Please be sure to consult your tax professional for more information.