A new national initiative to connect youth aging out of foster care with their community.

FOCUS builds connection, purpose and resilience for young people leaving the foster care system.

Each year, 23,000 young people (18-21) “age out” of the child welfare system without permanent families or strong community connections.

What they do have is a history of trauma, abuse and neglect, and little opportunity to prepare for the realities and responsibilities of young adulthood. Thrust into the adult world alone, 50% become homeless or incarcerated within two years. Only 3% complete college. 60-70% of sexually trafficked youth have been in the foster care system. 


We can do better.



  • Draws national attention to the challenges and opportunities facing youth leaving the foster care system.
  • Creates a scalable solution: mobilizing a national network of communities to improve the life trajectories of transition-age young people.
  • Develops resilience, deep relationships, life skills and social capital for participating youth.

PROJECT OVERVIEW FOCUS is currently in the development stage.



Like all of us, young people in FOCUS need a sense of belonging and to be surrounded by people who care about them.

FOCUS connects youth aging out of foster care to community, and connects community members and resources to these remarkable young people.

Working with community-based FOCUS affiliates, FOCUS provides each youth participant with:

  • A small DREAM TEAM of caring volunteers.
  • The technology needed to thrive in a digital economy.
  • The embrace of the broader community to guide them on their journey.


photograph courtesy of Seeing our Voices, a program of Friends of Children, Inc.



Young people in FOCUS understand their value and their role as important members of their community.

FOCUS participants are eager to discover who they are and who they want to be, become part of their community and achieve their dreams.

Each young person creates a VISION PLAN for their future. With the support of their DREAM TEAM and broader COMMUNITY CIRCLES, they pursue their own goals, such as:

  • Finding a place to live.
  • Identifying a career path.
  • Pursuing vocational training or higher education.
  • Attaining a job.
  • Getting involved in the community.

Building skills and social capital, they access resources and digital technologies and become an integral part of their community.



Young people develop their resilience (the ability to overcome significant adversity and trauma) by participating in FOCUS.




photographs courtesy of Seeing our Voices, a program of Friends of Children, Inc.


Resilience research indicates that young people can increase their resilience through:

  • Supportive relationships with caring adults.

FOCUS creates ample opportunities for former foster youth to learn how to make and sustain healthy, enduring relationships with adults.

  • High expectations based on their strengths and potential.

The FOCUS community sees the potential of these young people, cheers them on, recognizes their accomplishments, comforts them through hard times and supports them when they make mistakes or hit the inevitable setbacks.

  • Meaningful participation in the community.

People in the FOCUS community share their networks and connections to help youth achieve their goals and contribute to their community. In turn, the community is made richer by the talents, vibrancy and unique perspectives of these resilient young people.




MODEL DESCRIPTION FOCUS is currently in the development stage.




FOCUS creates opportunities for corporate, academic and community partners to step up to improve the futures of foster youth. We incorporate the expertise of our valued colleagues from the NATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD



Young people exiting the foster care system deserve to be fully engaged in their community and to have the resources they need to thrive as young adults. FOCUS dramatically improves their lives and those of the people who step forward to make their communities truly inclusive and welcoming.

FOCUS is currently in the development stage. If you are interested in learning more about this exciting initiative or becoming a FOCUS partner, please contact Kristen Golden, Director of National Projects, using the form below. We would love to hear from you.