Our Opinion: Easing the transition out of foster care

News Tribune editorial

Periods of transition can be among the most difficult.

For children in foster care, that period often occurs when they “age out” of the system at age 18.

The birthday may mark an abrupt transition from being another person’s responsibility to total self-reliance.

A best-case scenario is characterized by a smooth transition. A worst-case scenario may be marked by homelessness, unemployment and other difficulties.

A traveling performer, a local church and an area organization are raising awareness of the problem and working to ease transitions for the approximately 25 Cole County teens who age out of the foster care system each year.

Texan Kevin Montgomery performed a concert locally on Tuesday in connection with his nationwide tour to raise awareness about the plight of children aging out of foster care.

“Eighty percent of kids that age out of foster care go homeless in their first six months and 70 percent of prisoners in our prison system were in foster care,” he told his audience.

Creating transitional housing for those teens is a project of the missions team at Memorial Baptist Church.

The church is seeking partners to assist with financial contributions or property donations for transitional housing, where church members would serve as mentors and provide support services.

Two mission team members, Scott and Tisha Spencer, also serve on the board of Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association, which operates a Transitions program for older teens.

The Transitions program now is seeking eight mentors to match with teens aging out of foster care, according to DeAnna Alonso, executive director of the association.

A basic skills and life skills retreat at the Rickman Conference Center is part of the program.

In addition, the association will host its fourth annual Forget-Me-Not Gala on Nov. 1 at Capitol Plaza Hotel.

People interested in serving as mentors or learning more about the Transitions program or gala may go to www.ccfosteradopt.com or contact deanna@ccfosteradopt.com.

The transition from foster care can pose yet another dilemma for children who already have faced many dilemmas.

We commend the organizations and individuals who are helping ease their predicament.

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