Among the many issues that face foster children who will soon age out of the system is how to live on their own if they are not attending college and must make their own lives after graduating from high school and turning 18. At the KidsPeace Raleigh, NC, Foster Care Office, Avis Dublin and Carla Daniels wanted to give some older teens a glimpse into the challenges they will be facing after entering the real world. A group of a dozen 15-19 year old teens has been participating in a 16-week Independent Living Group to help prepare them for living on their own. Topics have included money management, interviewing, study skills and relationship building. The Real World exercise took place on April 13 at the foster care office and provided a group of the oldest teens with a scenarios that they may soon be facing.

Each teen was given a task card upon arrival and had to accomplish the assignments listed on the card. The teens had to be interviewed for jobs, fill out applications to rent apartments, connect utilities, open bank accounts and face at least one unexpected occurrence. They would apply for an apartment and be told they needed a job first so have to go to the job application station and then go back once they had obtained jobs. Community volunteers from Progress Energy and CapTrust spoke earnestly with the teens and drove home the fact that saving money and spending wisely were imperative parts of independent living. Unexpected occurrences would include such scenarios as getting a $200 ticket, having their cars break down and need costly repairs and receiving a surprise visit from a sister and her four kids who want to stay at your apartment for a few weeks.  There were intense discussions about how to deal with the surprises in life that can eat away at savings and make it impossible to pay the rent or electric bill.

All of the Raleigh staff members participated, and the teens learned a lot and received wonderful tips on how unpredictable independent living can be. They shared lunch afterwards, and all participants were happy with the outcome. Carla would like to thank the teens, foster care staff and the volunteers from Progress Energy and CapTrust for participating in this educational and fun morning.