RFL is working to stop the cycle of foster care, child abuse, and homelessness for former foster care youth. At RFL, we serve, inspire, and empower former foster youth, offering a number of unique programs to prepare youth for a successful future. Our services range from basic needs like transportation assistance and emergency supplies, career exploration and GED preparedness, to mental health counseling and a Mommy/Daddy & Me support network. Click through the links below to learn more about the services and programs RFL offers to get youth back on their feet and planning for the future, and how you can give or get involved.
Transportation is essential for meeting basic needs. At Ready for Life, youth can receive a year-long bus pass, making it easier for them to get to appointments, work, or school. Youth can also work with their Youth Specialist to receive assistance with Uber/Lyft, ride sharing, or gas, and with obtaining a driver's license.
CLEAN SWEEP DAY STOP
Hygiene needs are some of the first that we meet when youth initially find Ready for Life. Many of our youth are homeless, displaced, or between living situations and often need a place to shower, do laundry, and reset. Our Rays Clean Sweep Day Stop, sponsored by the Rays Baseball Foundation, provides youth with access to toiletries, a shower, private lockers, and laundry facilities.
Ready for Life offers lockers donated by Suncoast Voices for Children that our youth can use for important documents, personal belongings, or anything they feel needs safeguarding. Since many youth come to us homeless or displaced, a safe and secure place for their treasured items is essential.
Stocked with donated items from our wish list and organized by creative volunteers, The Pantry has become one of the most important services we offer to hundreds of young clients and their children every day.
Beth's Corner, sponsored by the Beth Dillinger Foundation, is a special closet at Ready for Life filled with brand new clothing for young adults and their children. Whether they need an outfit for work, a job interview, or an important school presentation, youth can always find something new to wear from Beth's Corner.
Due to lack of support and ever-changing living situations, many former foster youth don't have access to most of their important documents, nor do they know where to look. Ready for Life offers assistance in locating and ordering birth certificates, IDs, transcripts, and other important documents youth need to continue on the road to success.
Shelter is one of the most important basic needs former foster youth need help meeting. Without a safe, dry place to lay their heads at night, it is that much harder for youth to contemplate a successful future. Ready for Life, with the help of our Youth Specialists, assists displaced former foster youth in exploring all potential housing solutions, getting them back on their feet as soon as possible.
Financial literacy is a major key to former foster youth building a successful future. Ready for Life's Financial Literacy course teaches youth the most important financial skills, including budgeting and saving, making financially responsible decisions, as well as how to open and manage their own bank account.
life skills to level up
READY FOR JOBS
Ready for Jobs is our proprietary career readiness certification program. Each youth is matched with a Job Coach and together they walk through workshops designed to teach soft skills, interview skills, dress for success and etiquette. Then, Ready for Life works beside the youth to find interviews and job connections in the community.
Foster youth tend to have very little to no financial support, especially once they have aged out of foster care. Ready for Life fills in this financial gap by offering financial assistance for a variety of needs, such as housing or utilities, GED testing fees, uniforms or trade supplies, etc., to help youth get back on their feet or a foot in the door.
Through Opportunity Passport™, young people who have spent time in foster care complete a comprehensive, evidence-based financial literacy course with a mentor. Once they graduate, they are paired with a financial coach to help them create a budget and save for their goals through a savings matching program. Organizations and individuals donate to support the matching dollars, and it makes a huge impact to help youth achieve.
"Nine tenths of education is encouragement." Ready for Life tutors are a crucial part of our mission, helping youth build a strong foundation for the future through academic success. Ready for Life tutors offer educational support in all subjects at every level, including GED preparation, college applications, technical programs, and more.
READY FOR READING
Literacy is critical to success. The ability to read and write well leads to better health, better education and employment opportunities, and a more stable life for former foster youth. Ready for Reading was created to improve young adults reading and comprehension skills, giving them a strong foundation to a successful future.
LIFELINE & SUPPORT
BE THE ONE
Ready for Life's mentoring program is designed to help create a sense of belonging for our youth. We encourage mentors to share their knowledge, specialties, and caring hearts. Mentors are "the one person who cares." They are the motivational support and guidance our youth need to succeed in life. Become a mentor and change a young adult's future!
COMMUNITY LAW PROGRAM
The Community Law Program provides pro bono legal services to former foster care youth through the St. Petersburg Bar Association. The Community Law Program’s mission is to empower vulnerable populations through assistance with legal representation, employment barriers, custody issues, landlord-tenant disputes, and more.
MOMMY & ME / WINGMEN
Ready for Life currently serves over 145 little ones and 45 parents. That's 145 little ones NOT in foster care. Mommy & Me and Wingmen are our support networks for our young mothers and fathers and their little ones, helping to stop the cycle of foster care and child abuse.
MENTAL HEALTH CARE
Did you know that nearly 80% of foster care youth suffer from a mental health issue? Frequently changing housing situations, past trauma, and inadequate access to healthcare can lead to conditions such as PTSD, anxiety or depression, and more. Our in-house licensed therapists, provided by the Public Defender's office, help our youth work through issues in a safe, caring environment.
The Dr. David Zabrocki Memorial Dental Program, in partnership with Ready for Life, provides dental care to young adults who have aged out of foster care receiving little or no dental care their entire lives.
OPEN OFFICE FRIDAY
Open Office Friday is our bi-monthly community gathering where youth, mentors, volunteers, and community partners come together and spend time with each other.
These events are currently cancelled due to COVID-19, but may return virtually.
READY FOR HEALTH
In Ready for Life's Ready for Health class, sponsored by our community partner BayCare, youth learn about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, how to navigate the health care system including how and when to make doctors appointments, and much more.
“Experts” who know all too well the issues facing youth aging out of foster care. Each youth that comes to Ready for Life is assigned a Youth Specialist to help them assess and meet their needs as well as form a plan for their future.
WHEELS OF SUCCESS
A car is life changing for former foster youth, many of which have never had access to a car or even a license. Wheels of Success operates with a pay-it-forward philosophy. Youth receiving a vehicle “buy” it from the program by making small monthly payments for 1 year and donating three hours of service monthly to the program. This helps Wheels of Success assist additional youth and allows recipients to pay-it-forward.