Alternate post title: I am the Most Modest Person EVER.
So, that 5-year-plan? Isn’t really exactly a 5-year plan. It’s more like a 20-year, “Dear-God-if-you-could-help-me-out-with-this-because-I-have-no-idea-how-to-ever-make-it-happen-but-it’s-seriously-the-Best-Idea-EVER-so-any-help-you’d-like-to-throw-my-way-would-be-great” plan.
About 10 years ago I read in an article that 80% of kids who age out of the foster care system in CA end up on welfare. It was a big long article, but it basically boiled down to 2 reasons: after spending their whole lives bouncing from house to house, the kids are SERIOUSLY jacked in the head, and because of that, they don’t have the greatest educational background. (And who can blame them? I don’t think getting good grades would be at the top of MY list in that situation, either.) So they end up without the skills and education to get a good job, and often they have so many emotional problems (because they can’t afford therapy) that they can’t climb out of that emotional black hole. (Depression and suicide rates are apparently higher among kids/adults who have aged out, too.)
The other 20% of kids do ok. A few were in stable homes for at least most of their lives, even if they weren’t adopted, and a VERY few were fostered in super-loving homes where they were basically adopted without BEING adopted. Those kids sometimes have foster parents who even put them through college, though that’s incredibly rare.
But that other 80%? What if we could somehow mitigate that number?
I had this idea . . . some people* might even say that it’s the best idea EVER.
I want to start a non-profit. It would be a 3-5 year program for kids who have just aged out of the system, and it would prepare them to lead a productive, HAPPY life.
The idea would be to get kids into colleges or trade schools. The first year, the kids would have to live on the non-profit property, in dormitories, all bills and food would be paid for. The big catch would be that EVERY kid would have to attend one counseling session (group or individual) a day, 5 days a week.
The second year would be similar, but there would be fewer counseling sessions. They would have to take classes at the non-profit in addition to their schooling, on things like balancing checkbooks, budgeting, basic home maintenance, how to change a tire, that sort of thing.
The third year there would be still fewer counseling sessions (maybe once or twice a week), and they would have to get a part-time job and start paying a stipend toward their room and board. This year would also be the year they would meet with financial counselors and prepare to take over the cost of their remaining education. Finally, they’d take beginner-level financial classes.
During the fourth year, they’d have the option to remain at the non-profit or move out on their own, and they’d be down to twice-a-month counseling sessions. They would have to pay rent (even if they still lived at the non-profit) and food expenses, and they would take out loans to cover their schooling. This year they’d have more intensive Finance classes, too: they’d learn about mutual funds, stocks, mortgages, 401k’s, all that kind of “life” stuff. Toward the end of the school year, they’d have the option to sign up for job-hunt-coaching sessions with local executives in preparation for graduation.
Since colleges are so crowded now, it might fall over into a 5th year. In that case, the system would pretty much work the same as the 4th year.
In theory, I think it could work. Intensive counseling, combined with education, support and time to mature (because let’s face it, 18-year olds aren’t that mature under the BEST of circumstances). Seems like we could produce some happy, functional adults. Eventually we could have branches in all major cities around the U.S. WAY down the line, we could expand the system to include the homeless too, tailoring it to how much help they needed.
So that’s it. That’s my Best Idea EVER. I think that’s the end goal in my life. But to get there? I should probably start thinking about a 5-year plan. Because bouncing around the rest of my life won’t make a goal that big happen.
(Also, if anyone wants to send me a bazillion dollars for the funding, that’s ok with me. Maybe I should write to Brad and Angelina. I mean, they seem to like kids, right? And they have a lot of money! PERFECT.)
(But I wouldn’t be kidding if I really thought that writing Brad and Angelina would work. I’m just sayin’.)
Oh! And HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!! *insert silly party horn sounds here*