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Older Youth in Care Thrive with Support from Local Families

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Ventura County Children and Family Services' Homes with Heart VC program needs families to support older youth as they transition into independence.

VENTURA, Calif. - eTradeWire -- Elizabeth "Lizzy" Clews was 15 years old when, after multiple attempts to escape a toxic home life, she was placed in out-of-home (formerly foster) care. Without a stable home environment, Clews attended 13 different high schools leaving her feeling vastly disconnected. It was not until she was 17 and living in her second group home that she met Damon, a mentor that completely changed the direction of her life. Now Elizabeth helps others in care.

"Just having that one solid person that I knew was always going to be there really motivated me and gave me a sense of confidence and just a feeling like I deserved to be loved," said Clews. "It felt so good to have this person that I thought was successful also see that same potential in me at various stages of my life."

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Homes with Heart VC is seeking families that can open their hearts and homes to older youth. With over 250 older youth in care, Resource Families for older youth between the ages of 16-25 are in higher demand than ever before. Older transitioning youth have a 25% incarceration rate within two years of emancipation, over 30% experience homelessness, and less than 3% graduate college, so families and mentors can really make a life-changing decision to help.

Now 27, Elizabeth is just one of many former older youth in (foster) care that are now thriving thanks to local mentors and Resource Families. She serves as a certified Educational Rights Holder, is a trauma-informed practices trainer and facilitates workshops for caregivers and youth in out-of-home care. Lizzy is also an advocate with the John Burton Foundation of Advocates for Youth Foundation advocating for policy implementation that specifically benefits current and former youth in care like herself. Currently in her last semester at Ventura College, Lizzy plans to transfer to UC Santa Cruz in the Fall to earn a degree in history, obtain a teaching credential, and teach history at the high school or collegiate level. She also plans to stay active within the child welfare community for the rest of her life.

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"We need our older youth to go out into the world with that key to success -- knowing that they are loved and supported to lead healthy and productive lives," said Jaci Johnson, Program Coordinator III at Ventura County Children and Family Services. "If you can offer a stable and nurturing home, and unwavering guidance to one of our incredible older youth, we urge you to reach out and consider stepping up to help."

To learn more about how you can get involved, visit www.homeswithheartvc.org/tay.

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Source: Consortium Media
Filed Under: Family

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