Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSS) is announcing the opening of BeREAL [Ready Educated Accomplished Leaders] Austin, a program for youngadults aging out of the foster care system in Central Texas. BeREAL empowers young adults to become contributing and self-sufficient members of our communities, ultimately helping to break generational cycles of poverty andabuse. The program anticipates serving approximately 30 youths through housing support and mentoring networks in its first year.
Imagine turning 18 and being ejected from your home with no family, few resources and nowhere to turn. That’s exactly the case for 1,328 young adults in Texas aging out of foster care every year. They often find themselves homeless and lacking the education, job and life skills required to embrace careers and adulthood to the best of their abilities. BeREAL Austin helps foster youth successfully transition to self-sufficiency and independence by providing Supervised Independent Living as they age out of care. LSS’ BeREAL program, in coordination with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), was first established in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2009.
“Our New Orleans program has made all the difference for foster youth with BeREAL support,” said Dr. Kurt Senske, CEO of LSS. “Transition coaches and mentors have played important roles in helping foster teens find their paths to hopeful, productive futures. We anticipate BeREAL Austin to have the same life-changing impact.”
“We are ready for our first BeREAL participants to move into our SIL apartments,” said Sarah Crocker, Transitional Services Program Director for BeREAL Austin. “Our apartments are centrally located near public transportation, educational institutions, grocery stores, various retail centers and social services. To further support and encourage our young adults, we are working with several community partners to develop mentoring opportunities and offer basic life skills training through workshops on budgeting, healthy eating and time management.”
The BeREAL housing initiative is made possible by donors and supporters. Through a partnership with Post Investment Group, a national multi-family real estate company, LSS secured discounted apartments for participants in Austin.
“This program will fill a pressing need in the Austin community and is a win-win for everybody,” said Jason Post, President of Post Investment Group. “Participants get housing and support as they transition to adulthood and the community at large benefits because we are preparing our young adults to become self-sufficient members of the community. I’m happy to be involved and grateful we have the resources available to contribute.”
To qualify for BeREAL Austin, young adults must be between 18 and 21 years of age, have been in foster care on their 18th birthday and be in school, working or a combination of both. Applicants must complete a DFPS’ application and submit it to their DFPS caseworker. Once approved, DFPS will refer applicants to LSS where they canapply for BeREAL.
About Lutheran Social Services of the South
Lutheran Social Services of the South is committed to breaking the cycle of child abuse in Texas through innovative children’s services, including foster care, adoption, education and residential treatment. LSS is a 501(c)(3) faith-based nonprofit organization that currently serves more than 32,000 individuals in need annually, including children, the elderly, the disadvantaged and those affected by disasters in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.