SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — There’s always been a need for more foster care homes, but what happens to the 18-year-olds that no longer have a home and are on the brink of aging out of the system?
In Iowa, there are more than 10,000 kids in the foster care system but each year, an average of 450 18-year-olds age out of foster care.
“I was going to probably be in the streets. I was probably going to be at some house not knowing where I am. Just kind of fending for survival basically,” said Aayla Larson.
Last year, Larson found a new beginning with the Crittenton Center’s Supervised Apartment Living Program, also known as SAL.
“They helped me become a better person knowing that I’m going to be successful in life, and I think I’m at the point where I’m satisfied with where I’m at right now,” said Larson.
Larson is one of the 35 young adults that receive support from the SAL program. The goal is to help them become independent.
“Our support team helps them with everything from cooking, budgeting to going out and applying for jobs, purchasing that first new car of theirs, or going to school. Anything to help them get a better start at life once they get out of the foster care program,” said Leslie Heying, the Executive Director of the Crittenton Center.
This opportunity is one of a kind providing a safety net for Siouxland youth that might not have many options and this is only made possible through community generosity.
“It’s really important to keep the funding going so we can help those teens as they go on to be successful adults. So that’s where funding is key, funding from the state, private donations are extremely important so any support we can get to make sure we are helping the teens in our community,” said Heying.
Larson is a success story. She took the lessons she learned in the program and is ready to apply them in her life after high school.
“I wanna go help people through maybe senior home or retirement home. I have my eye on a few places but once I get that, I don’t know where I’m going to go but I know I’m going to do great things,” said Larson.
Another program for 18 to 23-year-olds that have aged out of the foster care system can apply for is Iowa After Care Service Network. It provides individual financial support to young adults as they transition into adulthood.