A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

State to work with national nonprofit to help young people who reach adulthood in foster care

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The state is launching a new program this month to help young people who reach adulthood in foster care, one of the groups the most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kentucky Department for Community Based Services, an agency of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, has announced that Youth Villages, a national nonprofit organization, is offering the LifeSet program to young people between ages of 17 and 21 who are transitioning from foster care in Lexington, Louisville and 23 other surrounding counties.

State will start new program to help young people who reach adulthood in foster care.

Gov. Andy Beshear said his goal is to ensure that youth exiting foster care have a stable transition to adulthood.

“Part of a good child welfare network includes measures that will give older youth better outcomes,” Beshear said. “Unfortunately, many will age out of foster care into adulthood without an adoptive family to guide them along the way. But with LifeSet, these young Kentuckians can get help with the skills and resources they need to live on their own.”

Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander said many foster youth have experienced multiple adversities, but additional support like LifeSet can make a difference.  “We are mindful of the trauma these youth have experienced, and we know it can amplify stressors of adulthood.  LifeSet can be part of a solid support system that gives them what they need to succeed. This support is not only reassuring, it can be life-changing.”

LifeSet hopes to give young people a bridge to maturity, with a trained specialist by their side to navigate the complexities of early adulthood. Specialists meet with young people at the location of the youth’s choosing, face-to-face weekly, helping them set and achieve their goals around housing, transportation, education, employment, health and relationships through experiential learning.

Department for Community Based Services Commissioner Marta Miranda-Straub said she believes LifeSet can help youth stop living through cycles of instability.

“Just like other teens and young adults, youth aging out of foster care have goals and dreams, and supports like LifeSet can get them closer to see those ambitions becoming reality,” she said. “Especially during this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, we need to give youth aging out of care all the support they need to thrive and become self-sufficient adults.”

“The launch of LifeSet is the result of extensive planning with DCBS and shows the state’s strong commitment to making sure that young people who experience foster care have the support they need to become successful adults,” said Patrick Lawler, CEO of Youth Villages. “This is particularly important right now as the COVID-19 crisis has put even more stress on these young people at a critical time of their lives.”

Miranda-Straub said DCBS and Youth Villages have already received several youth referrals and enrollments for LifeSet services and that she and her team hope the program can be expanded to more areas of the state.

Currently, youth living in these 25 counties are eligible for LifeSet services: Bath, Boyle, Bullitt, Bourbon, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Garrard, Hardin, Henry, Jefferson, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Meade, Mercer, Montgomery, Nelson, Oldham, Powell, Rockcastle, Scott, Shelby, Spencer and Woodford.

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