February 24, 2014 at 4:03 PM
The Leadership Council of Roots & Wings – Union County made a thought-provoking presentation at First Congregational Church Westfield on Sunday, February 23, outlining the critical need of the approximately 100 Union County youths who age out of the state’s foster care program annually.
When youths in foster care turn 18, they can lose everything: nowhere to live, insufficient education, few employable skills, no financial resources and no dependable relationships for guidance. It’s a very different world from their peers who come from stable families with a support system in place, eagerly looking forward to the experiences of young adulthood. Roots & Wings has a 15-year successful track record of working with this high-risk population.
The Denville based non-profit organization meets the unique needs of these young adults with a client-centered program that is individualized to create the best possible environment for a successful future. Each client has a professional case manager, counselor and personal mentor. Also provided are safe housing, educational/career support and practical life skills.
“The results and success rates are impressive,” says Roots & Wings – Union County spokesperson Joe Masterson. By the time they leave the program:
· 100% have a place to live
· 100% earned a GED or high school equivalency
· 95% are employed at least part time
Masterson goes on to say, “When our volunteer group recognized the need for helping aged-out foster youth in Union County, we researched many existing groups and even thought about creating our own non-profit. But when we saw the Roots & Wings model, we knew it was the model best suited to our vision. We are excited to be bringing it here, where we all live. With the financial support of the community, we will be able to house our first two foster youth by the fall of this year. I hope anyone who is interested will give me a call at 908-233-3851.”
About Roots & Wings – Union County: Roots & Wings – Union County is an expansion of Roots & Wings headquartered in Morris County. Established early in 2014, Roots & Wings – Union County is headed by a five-member volunteer Leadership Council. They are in the process of fund raising to launch the program locally. Roots & Wings founder, Irene DeGrandpre, was recognized by the state’s Governor’s office in 2013 as a New Jersey Hero.