CES Expands Mission, Purchases Apartment for Independent Living
The Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter is pleased to announce the expansion of its mission to include a Residential Life Skills Training Program for foster youth ages 18-22 transitioning into adulthood.
According to the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), approximately 5% of Arkansas’ foster youth “age out” of the system each quarter. Due to the lack of stability and life skills, seventy-percent of those who age out end up homeless or incarcerated, and some even resort to suicide.
Jack Moffett, Executive Director of the Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter, stated, “This is a grass roots effort. There are currently no residential-based life skills programs in Arkansas for young adults who have aged out of foster care. Once a child who has aged out becomes homeless, the State estimates it spends $300,000 throughout the rest of their lifetime on various services. This program will allow young adults to live among peers while, at the same time, receive training and services that will enable them to transition to becoming self-sufficient, contributing members of our community, rather than costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Working with the Downs Group, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in foster youth-oriented programs, the CES completed a feasibility study, created a comprehensive program plan, and has purchased a 24-unit apartment complex to facilitate the residential portion of the program. Moffett says, “The experts from the Downs Group told us that Fort Smith has the resources to be an ideal location for a program like this. UAFS offers an excellent array of both educational and vocational offerings, the area has a number of community-minded businesses that can provide employment opportunities, and the Junior League of Fort Smith has already established a foundation of life skills training that we will build on to give these young people every chance possible to succeed.” The CES-owned apartment complex rounds out the program. He adds, “The residential part of the program, in my opinion, is critical to making the life skills training effective. It’s also the most expensive part of the equation…apartment complexes are not cheap. That’s probably why this hasn’t already been done.”
Founded in 1997, the Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter provides shelter and care in a home-like environment to children ages 6-17 who have been removed from their home by DHS due to abuse and/or neglect. During the 2014-15 fiscal year, CES served 263 children in crisis and provided over 7080 nights of care.
For further information on the Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter Independent Living Program, call (479) 242-5771. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to see 5News interview on CES Independent Living Program