Youth transitioning from Florida’s foster care system, like all young people climbing the path to adulthood, need resources. From financial assistance and education to health care and housing, youth need support along the journey. The state of Florida provides independent living services that include financial assistance for eligible youth, tuition and fee exemptions to public colleges and universities, and Medicaid health coverage. In addition, local providers offer transitional housing and other programs.

With all these resources you may wonder why former foster youth are less likely to graduate from college and more likely to experience homelessness and incarceration. While each youth is facing their own set of difficulties, the simple answer is that they need help to get plugged into these resources.

From age 18 to 29, young people are in a life span development phase termed “emerging adults” by Dr. Arnett in his book “Emerging Adulthood: The Winding Road From the Late Teens Though the Twenties” (Oxford University Press, 2004). During this time period young people are “feeling in between”–knowing they were pulling clear of the struggles of adolescence and starting to feel responsible for themselves, but still closely tied to their parents and family.

Former foster youth without parents and family and a sudden loss of support from the child welfare system, they need the help from caring adults to guide them and help them getting plugged into the available resources. Child welfare professionals, youth advocates, and foster parents, you can be those caring people for these emerging adults.

Dr. Elizabeth Wynter is the Executive Director of Selfless Love Foundation, whose mission is to enrich and transform the lives of current and former foster youth through raising awareness, strategic partnerships, and advocacy.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Wynter has worked on behalf of abused, neglected and abandoned children, providing leadership for local, state, and national efforts to improve the child welfare system. Dr. Wynter’s expertise in strategic planning and systems building have supported her transformative work in the areas of independent living and adoptions.

Selfless Love Foundation’s youth voice initiative entitled One Voice IMPAACT provides current and former foster youth opportunities to develop skills for leadership and life, advocate for changes to policy and join a network of youth leaders across the state of Florida.