BeREAL (Ready Educated Accomplished Leaders) is a program for Louisiana’s foster youth in transition, a project of Lutheran Social Services of the South (LSS) and the Louisiana Dept. of Children and Family Services.
Youth who age out of the foster care system are at higher risk for:
- Increased rates of incarceration and homelessness
- Health issues
- Early parenthood sexual and physical victimization
- Long-term dependency on public assistance
A REAL Need
Study after study shows that teens aging out of the foster care system are among the most at-risk adults in our society. Without consistent, caring, engaged, supportive relationships, these youth may have significant difficulty negotiating the world of adulthood, ill-prepared to support themselves or pursue their career goals. They have no one to stand with them when things get tough.
Youth leaving foster care are often sent into the world without housing, financial resources, or academic support, left on their own without positive connections and supportive relationships most other young people take for granted.
The mission of BeREAL is to be that support network, filling the void for foster youth in the greater New Orleans area.
A REAL Opportunity
The BeREAL program fills the existing gap in services for youth, ages 13-25. Teens in foster care between ages 13-17 may apply for the program. Once accepted, each BeREAL youth will develop an education and career plan. BeREAL provides:
- Advising and counseling about college and career plans
- Incentives and scholarships for academic achievement
- Weekly book club
- Recreational and birthday outings
- A housing support opportunity for youth who age out/turn 18 while still in high school
- A safe place to talk with trusted people about fears, hopes, concerns, and dreams
BeREAL Support Network
Everyone needs someone on their side – someone who not only challenges them to achieve, but who listens to them. A Transition Coach assigned to each youth assists them with creating their education and career plan and provides advice, resources, and counseling as they achieve their goals. A Volunteer Mentor is also matched with each youth, providing even more support to help them carry out their plans. Gap Team Volunteers provide short-term, specific services such as tutoring.
There are so many ways you can help! BeREAL recruits and trains talented and committed mentors and volunteers, and we’re always seeking people who want to make a tangible difference in the lives of the youth.