Buckner International offered Dallas a sneak peak April 10 at its newest program designed to help young women aging out of foster care succeed as adults.
Community leaders gathered for an open house on the Buckner campus in East Dallas, where they learned about NextStep, a new residential program for women ages 18-24 transitioning out of foster care. The program will be home to up to 10 women as they work to achieve their educational, career and independent living goals.
More than 26,000 children age out of foster care in the United States each year, often with little preparation for living on their own. Coupled with little or no support from family or community, these youth have higher rates of unemployment, homelessness and incarceration than others in their age group.
“Our ultimate goal for the young women who come through the NextStep program is to see them achieve self-sufficiency,” says Leticia Gerard, NextStep program director. “While at Buckner, each woman will learn how to live independently, pursue their educational goals, secure a job and manage their finances. They will have opportunities for counseling, mentorship and spiritual development.”
NextStep is a natural development for a ministry that has served vulnerable children, families and seniors since 1879. Last year, Buckner served more than 900 children through foster care and adoption. Helping young people succeed into adulthood was a logical next step.
“At Buckner, we are able to uniquely support and empower these young women during this time of transition in their lives,” says JoAnn Cole, vice president of foster care and adoption. “We come alongside them when they are at their most vulnerable, providing them with not only a safe place to live, but also with a community of people who care about them and want to see them succeed.
To find out more information about NextStep, visit buckner.org/nextstep.