by Lydia Huth
One of the most pressing questions in foster care is what happens to children who age out of the system. Now, with the Salem House, AGAPE will be answering this question by giving young men a chance to fully prepare themselves for independent life.
Thanks to North Carolina’s Foster Care 18-21 program, foster children can now remain in the system for three additional years, so long as they are in school, working, or medically incapable of meeting the other two stipulations. (Exact requirements for the program can be found HERE.) While AGAPE had already been pursuing ways to help children aging out of the program, the state’s new legislation smoothed the process.
In August, AGAPE will open the Salem House in Winston-Salem. The house will serve young men, providing them with essential resources for success like job training, mentorship, and living skills.
“The goal is to help them become self-sufficient,” executive director Kimberly Scott explained. “Ideally, they’ll stay in the program for as long as they possibly can and, by the time they leave, have enough money for a used car and a down payment on an apartment. We’d also like for them to have savings for at least two to three months, in case they ever find themselves without work.”
Residents will also be provided with outside guidance and support as they prepare for independent life. “We will have staff counselors that will be there on a weekly basis,” Scott said. “We’ll also have professionals coming in weekly to give seminars on budgeting, grocery shopping, resumes... you name it, anything needed for success.”
Young men in foster care will be referred to the home in the same way that they would be referred to a foster family, and there will be criteria for the boys living in the home. “We want a good match of guys in there together—guys that will compliment each other,” Scott said. These boys will need to follow the rules required by the state, such as having a job or taking classes, but AGAPE will also provide guidelines.
If you’re interested in helping AGAPE with the Salem House, don’t hesitate to reach out! “We’ll have lots of opportunities for people to mentor these young men and support the house’s mission,” Scott said. “If anybody’s interested and has a gift or a talent to share, if they let us know, I’m sure that I could find a way of using it!” To get in touch with AGAPE, you can contact Kaye Orander, our administrative assistant, at 919.673.7816, or reach out to AGAPE by email or through the contact form on the website.