Connected Youth Communities/Project Everlast
Among the 4,500 kids in Nebraska’s foster care system every year, the long-term prospects aren’t good. Each year, 260 young people age out of the foster care system. That means that at age 19, they may be cut off from the array of foster care support and services provided by the state, and sent to figure out life on their own. Youth aging out of foster care without guardianship or permanency face joblessness, homelessness, persistent mental health issues, unintended pregnancy and a myriad of other challenges. Add to this the young people coming out of the juvenile justice system, runaways and those facing homelessness for other reasons and we're looking at a disconnected youth population that needs to be plugged into the services to help them build the good life.
This innovative, youth-led initiative has achieved success addressing the policies affecting youth aging out of foster care. Project Everlast works to actively remove barriers that keep youth in foster care from achieving permanence, educational achievement, employment, housing, physical and mental health, personal and community engagement, and economic success.
Because of the outstanding results in the Omaha program, the Project Everlast model has expanded to Lincoln. Statewide, Project Everlast acts as a way to tap the voices of youth in needs through Project Everlast Youth Councils, and empower them to advocate for themselves and other young people with system experience.
Connected Youth Communities
Thanks to the federal Social Innovation Fund grant and a substantial investment from private and community partners, Nebraska Children is expanding into rural communities the older youth system of care model pioneered by the Panhandle's Social Services for Rural Homeless Youth initiative, with insight from lessons learned implementing the Project Everlast model in more urban settings. We're currently building Connected Youth Communities and collaborations across rural Nebraska to help young people with experience in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, struggling with homelessness, or who are disconnected from a family structure.