As they age out of foster care, young adults need mentors

Tuesday , October 10, 2017 - 4:30 AM

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

Foster care offers children safety, stability and encouragement.

But what happens when a young adult ages out of foster care? What happens if they’ve never been adopted?

What happens if they become homeless?

The JourneyUp Mentor Project can mean the difference between hope and despair.

  • RELATED: “Fundraiser to benefit new Ogden program that helps former foster care kids”

JourneyUp, part of Utah’s Christmas Box International, begins in January. But its roots go back to the Utah Youth Mentor Project, which started in 2008.

Christmas Box International partnered with the project from its inception. When it absorbed the charity in 2014, CBI rebranded it as JourneyUp.

Children age out of foster care at 18. When they do, many face homelessness and poverty.

JourneyUp helps former foster kids become adults. It starts by offering them medical, dental and mental health care. But it also provides housing and education.Perhaps most important, JourneyUp also matches clients with adult mentors who help them grow up.

Ogden needs the program, said Keeley Bierwolf, who will manage JourneyUp for Christmas Box International.

JourneyUP plans to work with CBI, Lantern House and Youth Futures to identify young adults leaving foster care, Bierwolf told JaNae Francis, a reporter for the Standard-Examiner.

“What we are finding is lack of stability and lack of consistent positive adult role models for people this age,” Bierwolf said. “By getting them a mentor, we can help with the transition out of foster care.”

To launch the program in Ogden, CBI plans an Oct. 12 fundraiser called “Christmas in October.” It features Richard Paul Evans, the Utah author who created Christmas Box International.

CBI helped 8,400 young victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment in 2016, according to a statement on its website.

You can help JourneyUp by bidding at Thursday’s silent auction, by donating to Christmas Box International, or by volunteering to mentor a young adult.

Children are aging out of foster care in Utah. You can help them avoid poverty and despair by supporting JourneyUp.

Christmas in October

  • WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 12.
  • WHERE: Pleasant Valley Library, 5568 Adams Avenue Parkway, Ogden.
  • DETAILS: A silent auction starts at 2:30 p.m. Author Richard Paul Evans speaks at 3.

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