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United Way Blog

Why We Fight to Bridge the Gap

Did you know that hundreds of 18-year-olds leave the child welfare system each year in Colorado? Without help, these youth are eight times more likely to go to jail than to earn a college degree. While most young people rely on their families as they transition into adulthood, many former foster youth do not have this support system that so many of us take for granted.

At Mile High United Way, we’re aiming to fix that. Our transformative program, Bridging the Gap, is fundamentally changing the lives of young adults who were in the child welfare system. Learn more about young people like Rahmet and Tai, and how we are helping them build a brighter future.

As we recognize National Foster Care Awareness Month, here are four things you may not know about former foster youth and Mile High United Way’s program:

  1. Coaching is critical. Bridging the Gap participants are paired with an Independent Living Coach. Coaches help youth set goals, as well as access resources and skill-building opportunities. They also provide guidance and navigation related to financial stability, education, workforce development, healthy relationships, safe and stable housing, and more.
  2. According to a 2012 Economic Value of Opportunity Youth report, fewer than half of former foster youth are employed by age 24. Independent Living Coaches help Bridging the Gap youth with resume building and interview skills at events like Career Week.
  3. That same report states that more than one in five youth will become homeless after age 18. Safe and stable housing is hard to find, and working toward economic success takes time. That’s why Mile High United Way advocated to extend the duration of the Family Unification (FUP) vouchers from 18 to 36 months.
  4. We all have a stake in helping youth thrive socially, emotionally, financially, and intellectually. With the resources, support, and advocacy for systemic change, we empower youth to create their own successful future.

So, what can you do to help? Give, advocate or volunteer to support former foster youth in your region. When we fight for a common goal, we can move the needle and help young people lead better lives, just like Rahmet and Tai.