Crossing Guards would help foster kids transition into adult life
A few weeks ago, AMIKids Crossroads welcomed the first group of boys to its new group foster-care facility in eastern Charlotte County.
But in less than six months, officials will have to say goodbye to some of those same boys who will have “aged out” of the foster-care system once they turn 18.
So to ensure a safe and smooth transition for the teens, Crossroads is forming the “Crossing Guards,” a team of volunteers who will help the young men transition from foster care to adult life. The group’s kickoff meeting will be held Wednesday at noon in the community room of Laishley Park Municipal Marina, 120 Laishley Court, Punta Gorda. Anyone interested in volunteering is invited to attend.
The purpose of the transition team is to help the boys find educational opportunities, employment, a place to live and transportation as they make their way from childhood to adulthood. Crossing Guards will also help with mentoring, advocacy, fundraising and coordinating any social service programs for which the youths may qualify.
“Right now when a kid turns 18, they are legally considered an adult and technically they’re on their own,” said Crossroads board member Eric Loche. “Whether it’s a job or school, we want them to know where they’re going to go. They’re not just going to get sent packing.”
Loche, who is spearheading the effort, said the Crossing Guards will make sure the boys have a place to go upon “aging out” and that they have a way to get there, along with less tangible things like where a boy spends Christmas if he has no family.
“Most people don’t think about those things, but some of these boys really have nowhere to go,” Loche said.
According to Crossroads executive director John Davidson, four of the eight boys currently at Crossroads will turn 18 this year.
“We didn’t expect to get four, but that’s what we have now, so we have to be prepared,” Davidson said.
Before converting to the group foster-care model this year, Davidson oversaw a population of area boys who were referred to Crossroads by the state Department of Juvenile Justice for rehabilitation. The majority of the kids graduated from the program within six months of arriving at the facility, he said. So Davidson and his staff are used to working with kids for short periods of time — and getting results. What they’re not used to, he said, is “letting them loose and saying, “OK, you’re all grown up now, bye.”
“I don’t know what you were like when you were 18, but when I was 18 if someone would have handed me my stuff and some money and said, ‘Here, have a nice life’ I would have fallen on my face,” Davidson said.
To learn more about the Crossing Guards or to volunteer, visit www.supportcrossroads.com and www.crossinguards.org.