Emily’s story is one of hope, success, and dreams. Emily came to Teen Leadership Foundation from Nevada where she was trafficked as a young woman. When she arrived at TLF, she came bearing uncertainty, trepidation, a desire to move forward, and a beautiful four year old son.
Emily quickly got settled in to the Launch Pad with her son, and voiced her dream of becoming a biologist. With her new found shelter and safety for both her son and herself, she was able to turn her attention to her studies. She worked hard, attending Fullerton College, and was accepted in California State University of Long Beach.
Emily has successfully launched out of the Launch Pad. She’s moved to Long Beach, to a studio with her son, where she will be able to continue to focus on her studies and work towards her goal of being a biologist. This is no small dream, but this young woman has the drive and stamina to achieve it.
The safety provided by TLF and the Launch Pad not only helped Emily to realize a dream and set in motion a plan to succeed, it has also been a place of safety and healing for her son. We were able to provide him with a bed, help him get stabilized in preschool, and provide him with speech therapy, where he has come a long way from having little to no speech when he arrived at the Launch Pad.
Emily’s story is an important story to tell because it shows how stability in housing set her up to dream, and pursue that dream for her and her son. When foster youth turn 18 in California, they lose access to the support systems that have been available to them through the welfare system. Research shows that within 18 months of aging out of the foster care system, 40-50% of youth become homeless. Because housing efficacy is directly related to self sufficiency, young adults with stable housing will be more likely to stay in school and maintain employment.
The Launch Pad provides stable and safe housing for youth who have formerly experienced the foster care system. Beyond that, we come around these young adults and provide them with personal mentor relationships, workshops to help them build skills to be successful adults, and the support they need to pursue their education dreams, just like Emily was able to.
Because of COVID, we are having to work hard to Bridge the Gap in their education needs that distance learning has created. While stable housing is the first step, we are not stopping there. We are going to provide our residents with a dedicated study space, supplemental therapy to address the anxiety of the pandemic and distance learning, computers, printers, money for books, and any other tangible need they may have in order to successfully attend school this semester.