During an intake call, a FosterAdopt Connect Community Connections YouThrive (CCYT) specialist met Emma*—a youth who didn’t hold back her tears when describing the abuse she was experiencing at the hands of her boyfriend. She began to describe a toxic relationship that the specialist feared was far more aggressive than what Emma was telling her.

Emma was currently living with her boyfriend and had been for the past two years. While expressing a desire to leave him, she was obviously struggling with this decision and admittedly baffled with why she was finding it so hard to leave, especially since the thought of leaving him had weighed heavily on her mind daily.

The specialist offered the idea of going to the local domestic violence shelter, and the youth recalled staying there as a child. She had questions about the shelter and gave the specialist permission to invite FAC’s program manager to talk with her given that this staff member had a professional background with domestic violence shelters.

Emma agreed, and in the conversations that ensued between Emma, the specialist, and program manager, it became apparent that Emma was beginning to trust them and believed that they had a strong desire to help her. They gave Emma a safe space for her to talk about her life and what she needed/wanted. It was obvious, however, that Emma was still uncertain about what to do for herself.

As the specialist was transporting Emma home after their meeting, Emma shared that she felt overwhelmed. However, she also said that never before had she felt so genuinely cared for—and from strangers nonetheless. She agreed to allow the CCYT specialist and program manager to send her daily texts to check in on her.

The following morning—less than 24 hours after the first meeting—the CCYT specialist received a text from Emma, informing her that she was ready to go to the shelter and asked for the specialist’s help.

When the specialist met Emma at her home the next day, she saw a frightened yet determined young woman ready to leave everything behind and find a new life for herself. She left the home she’d known for the last two years ready to start anew.

The specialist connected Emma to Sammy’s Window, where she received clothes, hygiene products, and some food. Through the CCYT program, Emma received a cash stipend to pay for a safe, temporary place to stay as she waited for an opening at the local domestic violence shelter. The money also helped her replace her shattered phone (a result of the abuse she experienced) with a new phone and number, allowing her to break ties with her boyfriend.

This story is just one example of the impact CCYT has in providing support and advocacy to the hundreds youth in our community who have aged out of the foster system and lack the family supports to navigate the transition into adulthood.

*Name changed to protect privacy.