LIFE Skills by the Numbers
Nationally, about 40% of youth leaving foster care experience some form of homelessness before they turn 26 and 25% spend time in jail. The longer young adults are homeless, the more likely they are to remain homeless. LIFE Skills Foundation is working against the clock to help young adults change course while they still can.
LIFE Skills provides the missing supports and services transition age youth need as they gain the skills to be self-sufficient. These include housing, mental health care, independent living skills classes and wraparound services such as taking them to the doctor, helping them shop and budget, making sure they get to school, helping them open a bank account, encouraging them to graduate and challenging them to plan and save for the future.
LIFE Skills served 93 people in 2018: 88 transition age youth and five of their infant children.
Most clients come to LIFE Skills with a unique set of needs and skills. They generally use multiple services. More than half of our clients received at least two services and more than a third received three or more services
LIFE Skills provided 36 youth with an average of $1,700 in direct, individualized assistance including rent, clothing, food, healthcare, transportation, supplies and more.
In general, the young adults who were the most successful required the most direct assistance because they were moving into their own apartments, attending school or starting a job.
The LIFE Skills Impact
Youth who fully engage in the LIFE Skills programming and receive housing, counseling, and wraparound supports do much better than national trends for youth exiting foster care:
90% of these youth had stable housing
80% of clients able to work maintained at least part-time employment
80% of those focused on education engaged in or completed an educational or vocational program
93% of young adults who moved out of LIFE Skills transitional housing moved to stable housing
Young adults in our transitional housing improved by an average of six points over baseline on our independent living assessment, a measure of participants’ employment status, educational achievement, housing stability, financial fitness, health and support networks. Each point on the scale represents a major milestone such as graduating from high school, signing a lease or getting their first job. One client even left transitional housing with a perfect score of 30!
Partnerships are Key
Like most people moving towards independence, the transition age youth we serve have complex individual needs. However, many lack the traditional family supports available to other young adults into their twenties and beyond. LIFE Skills provides the missing supports our clients need including taking them to the doctor, helping them shop and budget, making sure they get to school, helping them open a bank account, encouraging them to graduate and challenging them to plan and save for the future. Some of the wraparound supports we provide seem like small things, but they add up. For example, during the 2015-16 fiscal year, we provided 720 meals and 1400 bus passes to help our clients stay healthy, get to work and attend classes.
Connecting our clients with the services and supports they need requires a wide range of partners. No one organization can do it all! Here are some of our many partners helping transition age youth:
EMPLOYMENT and job readiness
HEALTH, WELLNESS AND COUNSELING
Health etc. cont.
LEGAL AND JUSTICE
WE HOST TERRIFIC INTERNS FROM:
Street Outreach and Beyond
LIFE Skills has brought together a group of service providers and other partners to establish a collaboratively staffed Young Adult Resource Center called the HUB. This free daytime resource center will be open to any homeless or housing insecure young adult. They will be able to shower, eat, receive clothing and toiletries, meet with mental health or other needed coordinators of service, and receive help in securing housing, education, employment and other assistance with the transition to being on their own. Read more about this exciting project.
It is challenging to put numbers on the changes we see at LIFE Skills. However, it is important for both staff and clients to be able to chart those changes. In early 2016, we began quantitatively assessing the six areas that research shows are critical for young people to succeed at living independently. These areas are employment, education, housing, finances, health and support networks. In 2017, we saw an average score improvement of 6 points for the 24 participants able to be tracked. While some clients progressed and others faced setbacks during this time, the trend is encouraging. No matter where you begin or how you look at it, 6 steps on the diagram below represents a lot of change! No matter where you begin or how you look at it, 7 steps on the diagram below represents a lot of change!
Each point in the six areas below represents a major step on the ladder to independence.
How Your Donation Helps
The systems designed for adults and children often leave transition age youth out in the cold. For those aging out of foster care, turning 18 can mean homelessness and insecurity. LIFE Skills provides a safe and supportive place where youth can get the skills they need to transition to independence. We envision a future where no young people have to struggle to find a place to sleep or enough to eat. The reality is that LIFE Skills must turn away more youth than we serve. With the number of Durham youth in foster care rising rapidly, this situation is only going to get worse. Every donation makes a difference!