Helping foster kids when they no longer are kids

Eric and Kara Gilmore were working as house parents for a group home for foster kids when he decided he needed to do more and enrolled at UALR to earn a master’s degree in social work. He was selling ads for a radio station when one of the foster kids they had worked with got into trouble.

Here’s how he describes it.

“She left with one bag of clothes and one night’s worth of her bipolar medications. And that was her entrance into adulthood.

“So that lasted, I think, about a month. They kicked her out. She lived with us for a little while but decided that she wanted to be a prostitute, and that was where she was going to make the most money. So unfortunately, that’s what she’s still doing. …

“It was one of those things where we decided two things: One, this is not OK. There’s an injustice here. And two, we can do something about it.”

That was what they were supposed to do – help foster kids who age out of the system to transition into adulthood. It’s a difficult path for all of us but can especially so for foster kids. According to a 2007 report by The Pew Charitable Trusts, one in five foster kids who age out will become homeless within two years.

The Gilmores founded Immerse Arkansas, which now provides an apartment, counseling, and volunteer mentors for six ex-foster kids. But there are 250 who age out every year.

So far, Immerse Arkansas is in its early stages. Open for business since August 2010, this year’s budget is $65,000, but it has recently raised a chunk of money that will enable it to serve at least 15 people.

Want to invest in this great organization? Read more here.

Here’s a column I wrote about Immerse Arkansas for the Arkansas News Bureau.

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