“Future Fest” helps youth preparing to age out of the foster care system

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — For young adults in the foster care system, there comes the time where they will have to be on their own when they age out of the system.

The non-profit organization Foundation 2 doesn’t want them to feel like they’re alone so year each it hosts a resource fair known as “Future Fest”.

Now in its seventh year, Future Fest strives to provide a bright future for young adults in the system who are preparing to age out.

“Having youth being able to see how many support and resources are available them makes them feel a little bit more safe in that process of turning 18 and aging out because it’s scary,” Foundation 2 Case Manager Shelby Holsapple said.

During the resource fair, youth can go booth to booth that focus on five key focal points: employment, housing, education, health and support and services.

“We have different resources for each of those domains that youth can just sit and talk to providers and get the resources they need,” Holsapple said.

Foundation 2, which provides crisis prevention and intervention programs, says housing is one of the biggest barriers the youth will face.

“Youth are turning 18 and aging out of the system and they might not have that family support, or co-signer, or rental history or things like that. If we can advocate for them and get them connected early to resources they tend to be a little more successful,” she said.

Holsapple said it’s her hope that kids will get the knowledge and connections they need to become successful. It’s also a way to tell them that they’re not alone.

Now 20-years-old, Arely Varela knows that fear from when she aged out of care.

“I thought when I turned 18 it was going to be cya you’re on your own! But it’s not. You have all these people that are out there to help you. They want to help you,” Varela said.

Varela said she’s apart of Foundation 2’s aftercare system where she can meet with a case manager twice a month. She hopes others like her will follow a successful path through the opportunities presented to them

“Be successful and not just become another statistic because sometimes that what foster kids feel like,” she said. “They’re just another statistic in the system.”

Varela said she’ll be starting classes this fall at the University of Iowa to pursue a degree in engineering.

Holsapple said a previous participant in the resource fair was able to get connected with the University of Northern Iowa and now attends school there because of it.

The need for more foster care families, especially for older kids and teens, Holsapple said, is another problem facing the kids. She said they’re also looking for more homes.

Learn more about the services Foundation 2 provides for youth here.

Jalyn Souchek

Jalyn Souchek

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