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Empower young women in and aging out of foster care, to safely and successfully transition to living independently.
The Present Situation
Foster care children "age out" of the system at age 18 and lose most government support services.
- 50% will fall prey to crime, drug and alcohol abuse and homelessness
- 70% do not have a high-school degree or GED
- 25% become homeless within three years of leaving the system
- 70% of the nation’s prison populations have spent some time in foster care
- Children live what they learn: Dysfunctional families tend to replicate living off the system for generations
Our Vision For The Future
- Footsteps to the Future is the model for change in Southwest Florida and the nation, providing programs such as mentoring, transitional living and advocacy for young women in and aging out of foster care.
- Footsteps to the Future helps young women break the cycle of abusive and addictive behaviors. We work to:
- Decrease crime, drug and alcohol abuse
- Reduce homelessness after leaving the system
- Increase the number of high school graduates including GED
- Young women inSouthwest Florida choose Footsteps to the Future to help them grow and develop as independent, self-reliant and contributing members of their communities.
- Footsteps to the Future helps young women with job readiness, leadership skills and more, to become role models and advocates for themselves and other women in foster care.
- Footsteps to the Future is the organization of choice for agencies at the local, state and national levels to empower young women in and aging out of foster care.
Our Values: RAILS On Which We Ride
- R Responsibility
We value and encourage making decisions that reflect compassion and responsibility for the people and the earth around us.
- A Accountability
We value and encourage taking responsibility for the choices we make, keeping our word and being prepared to accept the consequences of our behavior.
- I Integrity
We value and encourage doing our best to make sure that what we say and do are consistent with what we believe.
- L LOVE
We believe in the transformative power of the heart and that love heals all wounds.
- S Self-Reliance
We value and encourage self-reliance, with the ability to create and maintain resources while taking good care of ourselves.
In 2001, Founder and Executive Director Judi Woods, began providing mentoring services to young women in and aging out of foster care. In 2005, Ms. Woods founded Footsteps to the Future an organization to assist young women in foster care to develop the confidence and skills to live independent, successful lives. The organization has grown to its current level with an active board, an advisory council, and volunteers who provide a range of services to the young women. These services include the following:
- One-on-One and Group Mentoring
We hold monthly gatherings to provide life skills training and encourage socialization for all participants.
We match a positive and compassionate woman to be a role model and mentor for each young woman, giving them individualized care, attention and support.
- Transitional Living Program
We help the young women find safe and affordable housing. As part of this program, we have a mental and emotional wellness program, and a life coaching program, to help them meet their goal to become independent, self sufficient members of the community.
In 2008, we purchased our own transitional living home, which is safely shared for up to three young women. Our intention is to own more homes and grow our "village." Meanwhile, we help other young women find suitable housing, negotiate leases, and furnish their living spaces.
- Vehicle Donation Program
We are able to provide a safe, working vehicle to our young women who qualify and demonstrate they are responsible and accountable. We work with individuals in the community who wish to donate their used vehicles. When a young woman has consistent transportation needs for school or to work, we try to provide them with one of the donate vehicles.
To qualify the young woman must:
- Be 18 or older;
- Obtain a drivers license (we have contracted with a local driving school to provide lessons, which Footsteps helps pay for);
- Attend school and maintain at least a C average;
- Have a full or part-time job;
- Maintain $500 in a bank account for necessary vehicle repairs.
- Remain actively involved with Footsteps To The Future
To date we have provided 18 vehicles to our young women. We consistently have an average waiting list of five or more young women eligible for this program.
- Employment Partnership / Job Readiness Program
Our goal is to help the young women become quality employees who demonstrate good work habits and become reliable employees. Footsteps recruits employers who are willing to provide on the job training and mentors, and we provide mentors and other assistance to help the young women succeed in a work environment.
- Education Program
We match the young women with tutors to help them obtain their high school diploma or GED, and we encourage them to pursue higher education. We assist them to identify appropriate schools and help them fill out the necessary forms to be accepted. In addition, we assist them in finding ways to finance their education, including applying for scholarships and grants such as Pell Grants.