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   nurturing independence and aspirations

a program to promote self-sufficiency in young women aging out of foster care 

Teenagers in the foster care system are emancipated when they reach the age of 18 and are no longer attending high school. The majority find themselves suddenly on their own and have not learned how to find a job, locate housing and live independently. In fact:

  • over half of these teens do not complete high school or earn a GED 
  • within the first year 20-40% have been arrested or incarcerated 
  • 40-60% of the young women have become pregnant or given birth
  • 25% experience homelessness within 2-4 years

    Meet Nicole, LaKrystal and Gretchen Marie*, three young women who will soon join the approximately 200 teens that age out of foster care each year in Cuyahoga County. (*Names have been changed to protect identities.)

    The NIA program provides these at-risk young women with support and tools
    to identify and enhance the purpose of their lives. NIA utilizes five distinct program components to address the unique challenges facing teenage girls aging out of the foster care system.

    For young women aged 18-24 years (preference is given to those who were in foster care)

    • meets at the YWCA's brand new computer lab
    • offers instructors and tutoring through a partnership with Cuyahoga Community College
    • child care is provided

    life skills
    For young women aged 15-18 years who are currently in the Cuyahoga County foster care system

    • empowers teens to become self-sufficient and gives them the resources and knowledge to make it on their own
    • enables teens to earn their required life skills credits
    • teaches them about budgeting, interviewing, healthy relationships, STDs and pregnancy prevention, decision-making skills, goal-setting and much more

    nurturing parenting
    For young families with mothers aged 15-24 years (preference is given to those who are or were in foster care)

    • empowers young parents to become effective caregivers while creating a support system
    • helps parents improve decision-making and communication skills
    • teaches parents about child development, safety, health & nutrition and many more topics

    career preparation
    For young women aged 18-24 years who have aged out of foster care

    • prepares young women for the workplace with job readiness skills and support to make the transition into adulthood

    independent living skills
    For young women aged 18-21 years who have aged out of foster care

    • supports young women at high risk of becoming homeless due to the lack of education, resources, skills and support to transition into adulthood
    • assists them with skills they need to live independently, make good life choices and become self-sufficient
    • covers topics similar to the life skills program, but places more emphasis on housing issues, lease agreements, budgeting, financial literacy and credit counseling, health care access and interviewing
  • class information
    summer program
    Independence Place
    independence place open house
    construction photos