When foster children reach age 18, many are asked to leave home. Funding to foster parents is cut off in most states and only 15 states have funding provisions for older foster youth. To ease the transition to independent living, Casa Valentina assists these young men and women in creating their own lives apart from foster care through their three programs.
Operating in Miami, Florida since 2006, Casa Valentina works to ensure that former foster children from ages 18 to 22, including single mothers, will be able to live effectively on their own. Partnering with other prominent charity houses such as Camillus House, Casa Valentina provides housing and case management services for up to three years as its residents “grow up” in preparation to live independently.
Their programs also provide non-residential services, whether they are continued for former residents or extended to those who never were. In Miami Gardens, Casa Valentina was able to assist 20 non-residential former foster children transition into independent adulthood from 2009 to 2010 with the help of volunteers and donations.
Casa Valentina’s mission is to help youth transition successfully from foster care to independent living.
Casa Valentina has housed sixty young women and assisted six single mothers and their children. In addition, Casa Valentina’s Emmaus Place program, a partnered operation with Camillus House, is currently home to seven young men.
Casa Valentina encourages the pursuit of an education; applicants to the program must be enrolled in school, whether it is high school or college. As stated on the program’s website, applicants must be “making progress toward their educational goal.” Former foster youths who excel in their education become eligible for the Road to Independence Scholarship, which grants $1000 a month to these students as long as they pass their classes and remain in school. Financial aid would grant an easier pathway to economic stability for these young adults.
Because drug dependence only weighs down independence, the program strictly prohibits drug use and abuse and will refuse applicants who use substance in any form.
Most of Casa Valentina’s former and current residents have experienced some sort of positivity during their stay. 79% were able to earn their high school diploma/GED, and 80% were employed as they were enrolled and attending school. 93% of young women at Casa Valentina avoided pregnancy.
On the program’s website, Casa Valentina features their current residents. One in particular, named Denise, is spotlighted as a spoken word artist, and can be seen and heard speaking her poetry aloud to an audience. In her work, although not explicitly stated, her gratitude towards Casa Valentina is heard: she speaks of how her life has turned around; “She didn’t think her future would be brighter than the moonshine.”
For more information about Casa Valentina’s three programs, visit www.casavalentina.org.
Written by Carina Vo