That’s when a friend told her about a program called Connected by 25, which leases 44 homes in Indianapolis reserved for young people exiting foster care. Now, as a client, she lives in an apartment in Indianapolis.
“It’s a place of my own,” she said, sitting on a couch and playing with her son, XaVion.
Launched in 2008 by United Way of Central Indiana, the program aims to help young people transition from foster care to stable lives as young adults — by age 25, as the program’s name indicates. Those entering the program must be homeless, ages 18 to 25, and have some history of being in foster care.
The organization’s mission: to ensure that young people leaving the foster care system have tools to be successful.“We know this particular population struggles when it comes to completing their education, getting a good job and being connected to community support,” said Sam Criss, who oversees Connected by 25 in Indianapolis.
The program focuses first on housing but also on four other priorities: education, financial stability, employment and connection to a community support system. In addition to the housing units, the program leases a renovated house that contains office areas and meeting space. Fifteen computers are available for use by the young adults in the program, as well as a small library of books for the adults and their children.
Connected by 25 is a national program now operating in three states: California, Florida and Indiana. It is affiliated with the national Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, which supports programs such as Connected by 25 in 15 states.