Changes to aging out of foster care

Posted at 5:49 PM, Dec 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-05 17:49:17-05

Each day Dominique Jefferson gets herself ready to work two jobs. She said it's what she has to do to simply make it by.

“I have to get used to it (laughs) it sucks, but that's crazy”

Though she laughs now, when she 'aged out' of the Foster Care System after 16 years in it, it was no laughing matter.

She said, “For some issues it was hard for me. I feel like nobody's ready to be kicked out at 18 and I know friends and family members who still live with their parents at like 23, 24, who just need help, so it just feels like it wasn't fair at all, but I mean, that was just the rules."

Latasha Watts knows how difficult that process can be. When she aged out of the system she wanted to do something to help others that had to make the transition like her.

So she started the purple project.

“I get calls all the time and most of the time it's kids wanting assistance with rent or wanting assistance with food. I don't want to say that there's no resources out here because there are some resources in our community, but it's so many youth that's in need that meeting that need is sometimes difficult."

Research shows more than 1 in 5 young adults without a permanent family ends up homeless after age 18, while 1 in 4 end up in the justice system within just two years of leaving foster care. These are numbers advocates said their trying to reverse.

One possible solution that just passed is House Bill 50, which seeks to extend the age of foster care from 18 to 21. Backers, like Watts, said it's a big step in the right direction.

“What's shocking is that coming out so many years ago and then now here we are in 2015 and the same things are still happening. So what I'm hoping is that this new bill eliminate that."

Age 21, Dominique is still aware of the uphill battle she must climb, but she's determined to not become just another statistic.

She said, "Just basically trying to keep myself positive, myself out of trouble, keep myself busy because I know where I'm at and I know where I'm going, where I wanna go, you know."