WNYC’s Brian Lehrer talked to the president of Covenant House International, Kevin Ryan, and poet and journalist Tina Kelley, who co-wrote the book Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, a series of six stories about young people who found their way off the streets.
The guests, callers and online readers seemed to agree on this one point: children who age out of the foster care system need to leave with real-life skills and support. Otherwise, they are at great risk of exploitation and homelessness.
“These kids need to be prepared to how to set a budget. How to be financially independent; how to dress and talk for a job and preparation for the work environment,” wrote Leo from Queens.
Kevin Ryan said indeed there were gaps in the foster care system that leave young adults, between the ages of 18 and 21, vulnerable but he wanted readers of his book to understand there are concrete ways to help.
“They are stories of, we think, inspiration that give people a trajectory. How can they get involved and make a difference in kids’ lives. Twenty-six thousand kids leave the foster care system in the United States every year with no family,” Ryan said. “The bottom line is they leave foster care system with nothing and it’s a very short period of time for most of them before they end up on the streets.”
If you want to meet the authors in person, they will have a reading on Dec. 7 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.