The Child Welfare League of America reports that each year an estimated 20,000 young adults “age out” of the U.S. foster care system. In past years, within 12-18 months of discharge, 84% of youth had become a parent; 51% were unemployed; 25% had been homeless; and just 2% had obtained a Bachelor’s degree. In 2008, Black Mountain Home began offering youth who have earned a high school diploma or GED the option of remaining in care while furthering their education or working toward a career goal. Youth remain in contact with the adults who form their support system while serving as mentors and role models to younger children in care.
The primary focus of the Independent Living Program is to offer youth the opportunity to pursue some sort of continuing education. Ideally, youth spend at least one school year in our residential program prior to entering the Ray Campbell Independent Living Village. In most cases, youth need to have earned a high school diploma or GED prior to beginning the program, although exceptions are occasionally made on a case-by case basis. Youth in the program are expected to pursue some form of continuing education such as college, vocational training, an apprenticeship, a certificate program, or other approved educational program. Housing is provided in the Ray Campbell Independent Living Village on the main campus. Currently, the village provides housing for up to 32 young adults and three staff members.