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Two Americas: Project Everlast helps those aging out of foster care

Posted at 7:15 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 20:15:28-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For some young people in foster care, aging out of the system and heading into the world as adults can be intimidating.

Phillip Burrell, associate vice president at Project Everlast, says these young adults don't have a support network.

“Moving out on your own or purchasing your first vehicle, you typically have someone that can help you out with that process," Burell said. "Not everyone with experience in foster care has that uncle or aunt or family member to reach out to.”

There are 3,965 young people in foster care in Nebraska. Children in Douglas County (1,334), Sarpy County (186) and Lancaster County (408) make up almost half of that number.

At age 19, they will age out of the foster care system. For some, a pathway to success has been laid, while others fall through the cracks.

“The system is not very efficient at getting everyone the knowledge that they need before they age out of the state, out of foster care," Burrell said.

Project Everlast aims to fill in those gaps. They do so by partnering with other agencies in the area.

“One entity can’t do it all," Burrell said. "So it honestly does take a village..”

The program focuses on 14- to 25-year-olds who have been in the system.

They provide transportation for work and childcare, by working with the Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership.

They also provide a pathway to purchasing a vehicle. Through the Opportunity Passport, they match savings three to one.

“So if you save $2,000, it's going to match with $6,000," Burrell said. "So now you have $8,000 instead of that $2,000 saved to go purchase a vehicle.”

To address housing needs, the program connects young people with the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless.

Project Everlast also invites young people to find a support system with each other.

“They’re just telling their story, and then letting the people who are younger than them decide, ‘Hey is that something I want to do, or is that an outcome that I want,'" Burrell said.

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