The WingsNet program offers financial assistance and counseling to Central Florida young people who age out of foster care between ages 18 and 21. These youth are at high risk, and their reality is shocking:
- 33% will become homeless within 3 years
- 66% don’t have a high school diploma or GED
- 50% are unable to find jobs
- 60% will have babies within 4 years
The program’s goal is to change these statistics by providing a foundation on which these young people can become independent and self-reliant. As they improve their level of education, establish good work habits and learn independent-living skills, they can earn:
- Academic achievement incentives
- Paycheck supplement incentives
- Savings account matches
- Assistance to cover unanticipated expenses, such as emergencies, professional testing or licensing, medical and dental needs, repair costs, or housing or utilities deposits
To date, our efforts have yielded remarkable returns:
- 25% of WingsNet participants (compared to 3% of youths leaving foster care statewide) are enrolled in vocational or college studies
- 70% of WingsNet participants (compared to 40% of youths leaving foster care nationally) maintain employment for at least 6 months
- The number of WingsNet participants who open and maintain a savings account has increased 25%
Janna is one wonderful example of the positive impact of WingsNet. Janna entered foster care at age 14 after being removed from her home as a result of her mother both abusing and prostituting her. She exhibited behavioral issues as she went through a series of foster and group home placements and was at a high risk of dropping out of school. With support and help from her counselors, Janna set goals to get her GED and attend college. Janna’s participation in the WingsNet program motivated her to continue her education, and she enrolled at Daytona State College at age 18.
Janna expresses thanks for the support she received through WingsNet, which not only provided funds for many of her educational needs – books, fees, and supplies – but also to cover basic living expenses and food. WingsNet will continue to be there for Janna as she strives to gain independence and the ability to support herself in the future.
WingsNet helps youths in Osceola and Volusia counties, and our dream is to continue to expand — one county at a time — throughout Central Florida.