MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - On any given day there are nearly 438,000 children in foster care in the United States, and each year, thousands of them age out of the system.
Memphis-based nonprofit Youth Villages is hoping to make the ease the sometimes-difficult transition into adulthood.
Each year, 23,000 kids age out of the foster care system.
Studies show those children are more likely than their peers to face life difficulties including unemployment, homelessness and mental health problems.
"It's the typical things you would think in that when you grow up without a support system around you and you turn 18 years old - I mean to have the skills and the experience to go out and live independently is next to impossible if you have great support,” said Youth Villages Chief Development Officer Richard Shaw.
The organization is awarding $10 million in grants to four jurisdictions to expand services for youth through a program called YVLifeset.
Shaw said the program is life-changing.
"Our specialists they’re paired up with a small number of kids and they’re meeting face to face once to twice a week and they’re really focusing on those things from just building pro-social relationships so when we step back and we’re done providing services, they’re going to have a network around them of people that can support them - which we all need,” Shaw said.
The grant will help expand YVLifeset to four new areas including Illinois, Louisiana, the District of Columbia, and Los Angeles County.
Currently the program has about 3,000 children involved, and Shaw said 2,000 are in Tennessee.
"They also help them with basic things like how to go fill out a job application, how to fill out an application to get into a university, how to vote, how to get safe housing,” Shaw said. Shaw said the goal is to ensure that all 23,000 young adults who age out of the foster care system will have effective services, resources, and thrive in their adult lives.
To learn more about the program, visit Youth Villages’ website.