A few weeks ago we officially launched our newest project with a fundraising event from Reveal to Heal titled the Rise N Hope House Gala. At the event, I had a chance to speak with one of our honorees, the Commissioner of the NJ Department of Children and Families; Ms. Christine Norbut Beyer. She told me that the state of
New Jersey’s foster care system has never been better.
She was honored at our gala for her work in making the foster care system more progressive by intentionally keeping families intact by providing them with appropriate resources supplied by the state whenever possible. The division now seeks to help families in need by providing state resources to enhance a family’s well-being versus taking the kids away at the first sign of neglect.
And the results are just incredible. Since she took office in 2018 New Jersey now has the lowest number of kids in foster care compared to any other time. That’s why New Jersey’s foster care system has never been better.
While great news for foster youth and their biological families, there are still fewer resources for the kids in the system who are aging out. When the kids are 17 they are supposed to speak with their social worker about their transition plan. But most don’t have a solid relationship with them, nor necessarily trust them.
What It’s Like to Age Out of Foster Care
Most kids in the system have bounced around from house to house and social worker to social worker, creating a sense of mistrust for the system. Most don’t have the self-assurance to do research and piece together a plan for themselves. Most 18-year-olds wouldn’t have this capacity even if they came from intact families. And that’s where the vision for the Risen Hope house comes into play. It will be independent of the “system” they are accustomed to and it’s an all-in-one solution.
The vision for this “all-in-one” solution is to provide youth with just one application for rent-free housing (up to 3 years), mental health services, and educational and financial literacy consulting by licensed professionals. Once it gains awareness as a viable option it is sure to be a great alternative to trying to piece together what the “system” offers.
The fundraising gala was a great success in building awareness of the project and in getting the message out about how hard it is for young adults to transition to becoming independent adults.
The inspiration behind the Rise N Hope House comes from Reveal to Heal’s CEO, Octavia Bradley who experienced being in foster care at a young age and subsequently aging out without any resources. She eventually overcame the trauma and abuse she suffered while in foster care and is paying it forward with her non-profit Reveal to Heal which includes providing therapeutic services for individuals and families, mentorship programs, a food pantry, a therapeutic enrichment day camp, childcare, and an after school program. Below is a video of the celebratory gala. and Octavia’s story
While the New Jersey foster care system has never been better in terms of keeping kids with their families, our work is to improve the outcomes of kids who are aging out. They desperately need our support. You can make a significant impact by donating and/or volunteering.