Foster Youth Independence, a non-profit organization in Valencia, helps young adults who are aging out of the foster care system by providing them with assistance, from guiding them through resources available to filling out college applications.
With the month of May being the National Foster Care Awareness Month, FYI emphasizes homelessness.
“Foster youth are particularly at risk for homelessness,” said FYI Executive Director & Co-Founder, Carolyn Olsen. “Because they don’t have a safety net, they don’t have a family to fall back on… that often results in them becoming homeless.”
In Santa Clarita, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,250, according to zumper.com. This is a 24% increase over the previous year and a 41% increase over the span of 5-years.
The average rent for a studio apartment in Santa Clarita was $988 in 2017 versus $1,369 today.
Sixty-four percent of young adults (between the ages of 18-35) in California have moved back with their parents according to a survey conducted by ISoldMyHouse.com.
“The housing crisis is a problem for foster youth because it is very unaffordable,” said Manda, who declined to give her last name. “It just makes it harder for someone who doesn’t have a mom or dad… [a foster youth] doesn’t have that home to turn to and move back with their parents,” added Manda, who has been in the FYI program for about four years. “So, I feel like that’s why a lot of foster children end up homeless and they end up in situations that aren’t ideal for them because they don’t have a family to turn to.”
Young adults are facing difficult times where living in California and having a minimum wage job isn’t enough to cover other expenses such as food, gas, clothes, etc. So, these foster youths need support from the local community.
One way to support FYI and its cause is to donate to the organization. Another way is to become an adult caring volunteer or an Ally for the organization.
Adult volunteers must participate in a two-hour seminar, complete an application, pass the background check, and undergo an interview to become an Ally.
June 2 is the next training session is at the Christ Lutheran Church in Valencia for Santa Clarita Residents who wish to participate
“We can help with this problem knowing that there are caring people in the Santa Clarita community who would help if they were only aware of the need because a lot of the times, people just don’t know. When they think of foster kids they think of younger kids,” Olsen said.
Olsen said that FYI has helped 120 foster youths since it opened five years ago and currently has 61 foster youths in the program.
As California residents are living in difficult times with their finances, young adults are in a tough situation to find a decent living space.
While there are some that have the option to stay with their parents, there is the minority, like the foster youths in the program, that need help from their community.
“Not all foster children are bad and that most people that are labeling foster children by statistics,” Manda added, “but if they took the chance to get to get to know the foster kids deeper or previous foster youth that they would understand better that a lot of these kids come from trauma and some of them have the will and resistance to push forward, but some need the extra support and push.”