Asheville, Buncombe County – The Guardian ad Litem Association of Buncombe County (GALABC) announced today that they will financially support teenage children in the foster care system who are participating in the LINKS program at Buncombe County Health and Human Services. The LINKS program assists teenagers in foster care, or in the care of a family relative, with the process of becoming independent adults. The program is so named, LINKS, because its intent is for the youth to have ongoing connections with family, friends, mentors, community, employment, education, financial assistance, skills training, and other resources to facilitate the transition to adulthood.
GALABC raises funds throughout the year to support and enrich the lives of children who have been abused or neglected. Tom Siekman, Board President of the Guardian Association said today “We are pleased that we have the financial resources to assist the teenagers in foster care at BCHHS at this time. The circumstances of their childhood, often very stressful, adversely affect their ability to learn to function effectively as independent adults.”
The LINKS program begins with an assessment of the youth’s strengths as well as their needs for education around various aspects of transitioning to adulthood. This information is then reflected in a plan with goals that the young person focuses on. The goals address independent living skills, academic progress, employment skills and others. The youth is paid up to $105 per month depending on how many of these goals are achieved. They use the money to pay for such things as continuing education expenses, cell phones, driver’s licenses, or car expenses. Approximately 40 children are in the program.
State funding for the LINKS program funding has been reduced over the last four years. BCHHS Social work Director, Rebecca Smith, states, “These teenagers entering adulthood need the encouragement and training that the LINKS program provides to help establish their place in the world. We are grateful for the GALABC’s support of these youth.”
GALABC is a nonprofit organization whose mission includes advocating for the best interests and needs of abused and neglected children, both in court and their everyday environments. To learn more about GALABC visit us at gala-bc.org or Like Us on Facebook. The members of GALABC are community volunteers trained by the Guardian ad Litem Office, a State Office, to serve these children by advocating for their best interests in court. To learn about the Guardian ad Litem program and help provide a voice for foster children in court, visit volunteerforgal.org, or NC GAL Facebook.
-Tom Siekman, President, Guardian ad Litem Association of Buncombe County