Every year thousands of foster teens age out of the foster care system. Very few resources exist to assist these youth with the transition to the adult world after years of living in the foster care world. Approximately 50% will drop out of high school. Less than 3% will graduate from college. Over 75% will end up homeless, incarcerated or institutionalized within a few years of emancipation. One of the most significant factors contributing to these grim statistics is mental illness, compounded by substance use and abuse.
Many foster youth suffer from trauma-related mental illness, stemming from abandonment, physical/sexual abuse and/or neglect which initially caused them to be removed from unsafe situations and placed in foster care. Depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and other debilitating mental illnesses inhibit emancipated youth from creating healthy and sustaining relationships, furthering their education, and gaining employment. Other than very limited, underfunded, and overcrowded public health options, almost no high quality resources exist for these youth to get the critical mental health treatment they so desperately need.
Compounding this serious problem is drug addiction. Without the treatment necessary to cope with their mental illnesses, many emancipated youth will turn to illegal drugs and alcohol to self-medicate their mental health challenges. Addiction becomes the gateway to homelessness, incarceration and institutionalization. Virtually no in-patient treatment facilities exist to accept and treat this population. For the few programs that do exist, the waiting lists are long, treatment is short, and aftercare is almost non-existent. These limited resources are often allocated, due to funding restrictions, to adults under the supervision of parole or probation officers. Moreover, these facilities offer treatment programs which do not address the specialized needs of traumatized former foster youth. The success rate for our youth in these types of facilities is extremely low.
What is needed for emancipated youth is in-patient care offering dual diagnosis treatment – addressing mental illness and addiction simultaneously. These programs do not accept individuals without the ability to pay, nor do they accept CalOptima/Medi-Cal/MediCare. Young Lives Redeemed (“YLR”) facilitates access for youth to trauma-informed residential treatment programs that specialize in treating dual diagnosis clients, and which have a proven track record of working with the transitional age (18-26) youth population.
YLR partners with skilled, experienced licensed therapists, who can successfully treat childhood trauma and the associated mental illnesses. YLR facilitates engagement in out-patient programs and ensures the youth is living in a safe and sober environment.
YLR's wraparound approach is one of seeing the youth through to successful transition into independent living. Our commitment to the youth does not end at admission into, or discharge from, treatment. YLR monitors the youth's progress in treatment, and reintegration into society, connecting the youth to applicable resources along the way.
Our goal is to stem the tide of the thousands of emancipated foster youth who each year needlessly fall through society’s cracks due to mental illness and addiction, and lack of access to treatment. By facilitating dual diagnosis treatment, we can stabilize the lives of these youth so that they can go on to achieve healthy relationships, college educations and self-sustaining employment, thereby avoiding their current plight of homelessness, incarceration and institutionalization.