When foster children reach their 18th birthdays, they are no longer under the state’s care, and funding for their support is terminated. Commonly called “aging out,” the legal term is “emancipation.” Those who’ve lived with a family sometimes enjoy their support and assistance in finding a place to live and furnishing it, and others can turn to other relatives for that kind of help. In Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, about 11 teens age out of the system every week; 3 of them, on average, begin their new lives alone, in need of support, and frequently frightened.
Fill This House was founded to help teens in Cuyahoga County who are aging out of the foster care system. Faith-based and not-for-profit, it is supported by generous donations from corporate and faith-based organizations, as well as individuals. Fill This House helps by purchasing new household goods and furnishings such as cookware and other kitchen equipment; bedding and small appliances like clocks and toasters; and towels, curtains, and similar items. The group provides these items to teens in the process of transitioning out of the foster care system to independent living arrangements. Included with each bundle of household goods and equipment is a brand-new Bible.
In 2014, Fill This House served 99 young people, a 35 percent increase over 2013. Among those served was a group of 10 whose hard work had earned them full scholarships to Cleveland State University. For these scholars, the program “Filled Their Dorms” with all the furnishings and other essentials they’d need, freeing them to attend to their studies and the experience of college life. Further information is available on the organization’s website at www.FillThisHouse.org.