ROANOKE, Va. – Turning 18 is a big milestone. You become an adult, but many 18-year-olds still need their parents' advice, a place to come home for the holidays and some money every once in awhile. But children who turn 18 in the foster care system don't have that support and guidance.
Savanna Woolwine is an adult. She has her own apartment and a job, but life could be a lot different.
"Honestly if I didn't have this place then I have no idea where I would go. I would probably be on the streets or something like that," said Woolwine.
She's part of Fostering Futures, a program that started in July 2016. Instead of being thrown out of foster care at 18, they can choose to stay with the Department of Social Services, getting job training, help with school and life skills.
"This program has helped me become more mature. It's welcomed me into adulthood instead of slamming it in my face. They help with bills and they help me find jobs. They help with college funds and stuff like that," said Woolwine.
"It just recognizes that developmentally we're not really grown when we turn 18 in every occasion and we need to be there to support these kids because we are their legal parents. We have a responsibility to help them succeed," said Ben Jones, Roanoke County DSS family services supervisor.
The program started because more kids were aging out of the foster care system in Virginia than any other state, turning 18 without a family.
There are about 200 people in Virginia in Fostering Futures right now. Anyone that was in foster care previously and is now between 18 and 21 can be part of the program.
"I think honestly we are doing homelessness prevention, we are doing addiction prevention, we are doing mental health support. These are worthy causes the state of Virginia has said because the statistics in most states are a large proportion of our adult homeless population were in foster care," said Jones.
"If it wasn't for that there would be so many kids on the streets, in trouble or in jail. Sometimes they could even end up dead," said Woolwine.
She plans to go to Virginia Western in the spring and wants to be a social worker. Woolwine credits Fostering Futures for her success.