Patricia Holland knows what it takes for youth to be successful once they age out of foster care: a safety net of guidance to help them transition from dependence to independence.
She also knows the families children are forced to leave need support, too – before foster care becomes a final answer.
That’s why Holland, who started the Raleigh-based nonprofit All Things New with her husband in 2012 to help youth emancipated from foster care, has added a new-age twist to the organization’s annual event: Everybody in the house is invited.
“Knowledge is power, so we want to develop that same empowered support, not only for young adults, but for everybody – from the very young to seasoned seniors.”
May is National Foster Care Month, and All Things New will host its annual Developing Youth Empowered Support event Saturday, May 14, at the J.D. Lewis Multi-Purpose Center.
The group helps with everything from mentoring, GED preparation and college applications to professional grooming and life skills such as managing finances and preparing meals.
Statistics tell us former foster children are magnets for homelessness, unemployment and incarceration. They’re also more likely to develop drug or alcohol addictions or post-traumatic stress disorder, and to rely on public assistance. They’re less likely, however, to finish high school or college.
All Things New also collects travel bags, toiletries and other necessities for foster children who are taken from their biological or foster families, often for things such as abuse, domestic violence, drugs and other criminal activity.
The demand of meeting basic needs has slowed progress toward the organization’s long-term goal to offer 18 months of transitional housing – plus six months of aftercare – to those ages 18 to 22 who are still in school or working, Holland said.
This year, while spotlighting the need to help young adults newly emancipated from the ever-growing foster care system, All Things New will zero in on social ills and trends that often emerge as a backdrop for children routed to foster care.
The Developing Youth Empowered Support event will feature educational discussions centered on avoiding jail – and the long-term effects if you don’t – managing finances and maintaining self-esteem.
“We’ve put something together to touch every life, because it’s not just foster care youth, it’s the child next door who needs the truth to be told, without sugar-coating,” Holland said. “It’s the facts, and we have to educate the community to understand what these kids are going through. We can start now to raise kids so they don’t end up in foster care.”
Angela Joyner understands what Holland means all too well. When she was 13, Joyner, now 22, was taken from her home.
“My daddy was an alcoholic and he was a drug addict and he was abusive to my mother and done some things that shouldn’t have been done to his kids,” Joyner said.
When Joyner aged out of foster care at 18, she returned to her mother’s house. Then she left, floundered and came back again.
“I guess it was because of everything I went through,” she said. “It kind of caught up with me and I was to the point where I ignored life.”
Joyner’s mother credits All Things New with the transition she saw happen in her daughter’s life.
“It has helped her tremendously,” Katherine Harp said. “She has done a total turnaround. She cares about herself, she has a job, and she has a baby now. Just a total turnaround.”
Holland helped Joyner get her birth certificate and Social Security card.
“They helped me with a lot of stuff,” Joyner said. “That much I can say for sure: They truly help people.”
Find out more
To learn more about All Things New, go to www.2allthingsnew.com.