Imagine being 5 and a stranger comes to your house and takes you away. Before you were taken away you were hurt by someone in your home. You don’t get to live with your parents again. You are sent to a foster parent, if you’re lucky, but more likely in the state of SC you go to a group home. You are not with your mom and dad, no one is really talking to you about what you’re going through. You are scared, so you act out. You get moved to another home. This pattern repeats itself until you’re about to turn 18, with no real home of your own and you are about to be an adult. The next offer you receive is, stay in a group home or go back to live with a parent or relative. That should be great news, right?
Wrong. Despite failing you at every turn in your childhood, you’re about to suffer one more injustice at the hands of the system. There are benefits available for children aging out of foster care, benefits that are supposed to be used to teach children necessary life skills as well as give them a little money for college.
Chaffee Independent Living Funds can provide classes on managing life skills, adult education programs, education support like tutoring, pre-college expenses such as application fees, transportation assistance such as driving instruction or bus fare, employment assistance and housing assistance. In other words the funds can provide a child transitioning into adulthood the kind of help a parent normally gives them. Education and Training Vouchers (ETV Funds) can provide up to $5000.00 for college or vocational training.
Eligible youth include those that are:
- In foster care (from age 13 until the 21st birthday).
- Age 18 and older in voluntary aftercare who have not yet reached age 21.
- Emancipated out of care after age 18, but have not yet reached their 21st birthday. (An aftercare line must be opened and monthly contacts documented as long as aftercare youth are receiving funds.)
- Youth who leave care to positive permanency (adoption/kinship/guardianship) at or after age 16.
- In post – legal Adoption Preservation Placement (from age 13 until the 21st birthday) and are case managed by SCDSS.
South Carolina Appleseed saw far too many of our state’s children fall through these tremendous caverns. They did not get the services they needed to help with past abuse and neglect, and often found themselves passed around from home to home. That is why we chose to bring our lawsuit on behalf of children in foster care, to break this cycle of state condoned victimization and get kids in DSS what they deserve.
Some of these children will get the services, maybe a new home or eventually returned to their families who were also provided services. But unfortunately many children have aged out, missing out not only on their childhood but also on the help they need to transition to adulthood. We will continue that fight for children to get every possible service they need. This includes working to help those who age out receive all the services and benefits they deserve so they can move on to their new paths with the tools that they need.