Aging Out Initiative
Located in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region
The need for quality support for children who are orphaned doesn’t end when those children age out of traditional care. Orphans who age out of residential care in Russia face unsure futures when they leave the orphanage in their teens, and without appropriate wraparound care, the odds of a thriving adult life are not in their favor.
With little support from the government, orphans who age out of traditional care are often left on their own to navigate adulthood. Housing and a small stipend are provided for a season; however, that housing is often uninhabitable due to neglect. With no safe place to call home, and no one to offer encouragement and guidance, many orphan graduates fall victim to criminal activity, sexual exploitation and trafficking, and drug abuse. Those who want to rise above the statistics find themselves struggling to trust anyone because of their past experiences. The needs of orphans who age out are many. Even the basics like food and clothing are difficult for some young adults to obtain. The lack of educational support keeps some from completing vocational training or attending college, and medical and dental care are often ignored due to lack of finances. Because of the lack of housing, many orphans who age out receive rooms in communal apartments with other graduates they don’t know. Safety is an issue. Orphan Outreach’s goal is to help as many of these young adults as possible, providing them a safe, nurturing support system that will enable them to become thriving adults filled with purpose. This often includes helping to find or create safe housing, providing guidance on the best path for education, and working through their legal rights as an orphan. The assistance goes even further, teaching the graduate how to manage a budget, shop for and prepare meals, and develop healthy relationships with others. Orphan Outreach began our aging out initiative in 2009, after spending time with the young men and women to understand their needs, dreams, and very real fears. Candidates for the graduate program are identified while they are in the orphanage, and a customized transition plan is designed for each graduate to help them learn to live independently. Orphan Outreach staff and volunteers come alongside each orphan graduate to provide the emotional, physical, and spiritual support they need. Resources are provided through sponsorship and individual support of urgent needs like home repairs, medical and dental care, and tuition. Mission teams work with local volunteers to help orphan graduates through mentorship and tutoring.