ATLANTA, March 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Atlanta Children's Foundation today announced the debut of its Crisis Card Program to further support children who have aged out of the foster care system upon turning 18. With help from sponsors, the Crisis Card Program will provide financial aid to these at-risk youths to help them avoid possible exploitation upon aging out of the Georgia foster care system.
"One of the many challenges facing these young people as they transition from foster care to adulthood is a lack of financial resources," said Executive Director of the Atlanta Children's Foundation, Robert K. Willis. "Without a viable means to obtain the basic life necessities of food, clothing or shelter, as many as 80 percent of young adults who age out of the foster care program can end up in prison or sexually exploited."
To combat this statistic and ensure more foster care alumni are set up for success in adulthood, the Foundation will provide pre-paid Crisis Cards for the pilot program in Atlanta. Crisis Cards are securely stored at YMCA locations across the city, where they will be available upon request to the young adults who have aged out of the foster care program.
"In search of a safe-haven for foster youth seeking relief, the YMCA was a natural partner for this new program," said Willis. "We are thrilled to have their support in making Crisis Cards easily available for these young adults throughout the City of Atlanta."
"The YMCA believes all people, including young adults, deserve an equal chance to reach their full potential," said Lydia Thacker, VP of academic achievement and diversity. "That's why we are honored to be part of this partnership that will provide support for youth in our communities facing immediate challenges while they are connected to appropriate local agencies for long term solutions."
"The staff of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice are excited to work on this pilot program with the Atlanta Children's Foundation, the YMCA and the Atlanta Hawks," said DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles. "Helping youth is our mission; this is a worthwhile extension of that mission that has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of those the program serves."
"It's important to remember these are kids who are out of the system and no longer supported by the state," said Willis. "They are unattached and in need of serious help to avoid living crisis to crisis." We are honored to be working with the State of Georgia to provide assistance to youth in need in Atlanta, and ultimately, across the country."
"The Crisis Card Program will offer former foster youth a resource when they may feel they have nowhere else to turn as a young adult," said Georgia Division of Family and Children Services Director Bobby Cagle. "It offers a safety net of sorts as they enter this new phase of life."
The Crisis Card Program has already received support from the NBA, which is helping promote the initiative locally through the Atlanta Hawks.
Beyond Atlanta, the Crisis Card Program is currently being developed in six other major U.S. cities, with a goal of 29 locations activating Crisis Cards by 2018. Each activation will partner with the city's local NBA team and child protective services to further promote the program and maximize outreach to the area's at-risk youth.