How Foster360 and the ON Semiconductor Foundation are Helping Young Adults Succeed in Life after Foster Care
May is National Foster Care Month, an initiative recognizing foster parents and family members, mentors, volunteers, policymakers and other members of the community who help to ensure a bright future for the 423,000 children and youth in foster care in the United States. At the age of 18, young adults who age out of foster care are more likely than their peers to experience homelessness and unemployment, have a high school graduation rate of 42% versus a U.S. average of 88%, and a higher education graduation rate of only 3% compared to a U.S. average of 62%. This year, we are highlighting an ON Semiconductor Foundation grantee working to reverse these trends. Foster360 is providing stable, affordable and furnished homes with the necessary wraparound care to support sustainable personal and professional growth to local youth transitioning out of the foster care system.
In November 2020, a grant awarded by the ON Semiconductor Foundation to Foster360 helped to support the implementation of the two-year Foster360 pilot program created by Mesa United Way in 2018. It was started as part of Helen’s Hope Chest, another Mesa United Way non-profit organization with a strong foundation within the foster community since its establishment. The program has provided seven young adults with fully furnished apartments on a small campus with capacity to host ten youth and one-on-one educational, career and personal development support. Campus residents have all aged out of the foster care system and range from 19 to 23 years of age. Located in the greater Phoenix metro area, Foster360 neighbors the ON Semiconductor global headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, demonstrating the truly local impact of the grant. Youth living on campus work with a personal navigator, who assists them in achieving their personal and professional goals as they build the foundation for safe and healthy autonomous living.
Mariah, a 19-year-old resident, on the day she visited the campus for the first time, said:
“My cheeks are hurting because I am smiling so hard under my mask."
The Foster360 program aims to prevent youth homelessness and remove barriers to economic opportunity by providing full wraparound support to residents as they age out of the foster care system. Growing up without a stable source of social, psychological and financial support has long-lasting impacts on youth who have navigated life in foster care. The program focuses on trauma-informed care and strives to develop relational permanency, which refers a sense of belonging that comes about through an enduring, supportive relationship with a caring adult.
Shea, a 19-year-old resident, during a meeting with Lesley, her personal navigator, expressed:
“I am struggling but I will not mess up this one opportunity.”
Team-building and leadership development sessions, one-on-one mentorship opportunities and accountability check-ins comprise the holistic personal navigation system that serves as the foundation for the Foster360 program. Employment assistance, educational guidance and personal support play an integral role in the development of self-sufficiency and catalyze personal growth. Living with peers also provides a sense of community as they transition from foster care to autonomous living.
Candice, the founder and program director of Foster360, stated:
“It’s exciting to track the progress of our residents as they develop the necessary skills for independent living. Stability, support and trauma-informed care are all cornerstones of the Foster360 program that will build the foundation for sustainable, long-term growth.”
As the pilot program, Foster360 continues to learn, grow and fine-tune their programming with the vision of offering a scalable model to support the more than 900 youth who age out of the foster care system in Arizona each year. The Foster360 team hopes to collaborate with more community organizations to enhance the program’s impact and reach. The ON Semiconductor Foundation recognizes the vital role Foster360 plays in ensuring a brighter future for youth transitioning out of foster care in Arizona, and is grateful to support this organization making long-lasting impact in the lives of young adults in the local community.
Learn more about the ON Semiconductor Foundation and how it works to expand opportunities for youth in the local community through grant making: https://www.onsemi.com/about/foundation.