Savings Accounts Help Foster Kids Enter Adulthood

TAMPA -

'Connected by 25' is a program that focuses on the needs of older teens. They find themselves leaving the protective environment of the foster care system because they are turning 18 and are legally adults.

Donna Zambito is the group's executive director. She says that just because someone whose been living in foster care becomes a legal adult, it doesn't mean they're ready to live on their own.

ZAMBITO: Right now, most of our youth in foster care who turn 18 have no assets and meet every definition of poverty. However, we have an expectation that they're going to go out there and rent an apartment, continue their school;' and that's not a reality without some support.

The Opportunity Passport is one resource that Connected by 25 uses to help teens who are aging out of foster care. Teens open up an Individual Development Savings Account with a bank and matching funds are made available when the money is spent on education, housing, healthcare or transportation.

Zambito also says the program teaches financial management and gives the teens experience with the banking system as they manage their accounts.

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