Buckner Children and Family Services and Georgia-based Connections Homes signed a joint agreement today to provide a more extensive support network to youth aging out of the Texas foster care system.
Connections Homes matches young adults about to age out of foster care, or who already have aged out, with mentoring families. The signing of the memorandum of understanding marks Connections Homes’ first work outside of Georgia since announcing its planned expansion to Texas in June 2021.
“We are so honored to join Buckner in this very important challenge to meet the needs of thousands of foster youth in Texas who have challenging futures ahead of them without a safe, stable adult in their life,” said Pam Parish, founder and CEO of Connections Homes, a North Georgia transition agency. “Buckner knows the needs of children and youth in this area, and we believe they will guide us where to target the most vulnerable youth aging out of foster care who need support.”
The majority of kids who age out of the foster care system wind up in poverty, as they have no loving parents in their lives to guide them to make good decisions. Each year, 1,200 young men and women age out of the Texas foster care system, joining tens of thousands of young homeless on the streets.
“We see our mission as working with Buckner to prevent the next generation of youth from experiencing homelessness, incarceration, poverty or worse,” Parish said.
Since 2014, Buckner has served more than 1,000 youth aging out of foster care with transitional programming throughout Texas. NextStep in Dallas is a supervised independent living program that provides young adults with the support they need to meet their educational, career and independent living goals and achieve self-sufficiency. Many of the residents are former foster youth.
Buckner operates FYi Centers (fostering youth independence) in Amarillo, Beaumont, Lubbock and Lufkin. FYi Centers offer training, support and guidance to youth graduating from foster care that will enhance their ability to transition into independent living.
“Our collaboration with Connections Homes and their mentoring families will provide greater resources and opportunities for the more than 1,000 young adults who age out of foster care each year in the state of Texas,” said Samela Macon, vice president of Buckner Children and Family Services.
“We also see opportunities to assist Connections Homes in finding families to mentor these young people, as we know not every person who joins one of our foster care informational meetings will decide to move forward with becoming a foster parent. We want them to know there are other ways they can help older children and young adults who need love and support, and Connections Homes offers a great alternative.”
Attending the signing ceremony at the Buckner International Support Center in downtown Dallas were Parish, Connections Homes Texas Executive Director Janna Gardner, Buckner International President and CEO Albert Reyes, Buckner Children and Family Services Senior Vice President Henry Jackson, and Buckner Children and Family Services Vice President Samela Macon.