BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- More than 5,000 kids are in foster care in Arkansas, and many grow up without the loving care of a foster family.
One group is expanding their program to help teens before and after they reach the age of 18. Foster kids age out of the state system at 18 and then they're left figuring out things like finding a job, managing money or even buying a car.
The staff at Second Chance Youth Ranch is opening its door for more boys that are aging out of the program. A new foster home is opening up for boys ages 16 to 21. Director of Operations Rachel Hubbard is excited to welcome four additional foster kids into their new home in Bryant.
"We are opening up a brand new transitional program for boys who are aging out of foster care,” Hubbard said. “When you turn 18 you're kind of done, and you don't have any help, and it's time to change that."
Currently, there are six homes with 4 to 7 children living in each one. Hubbard said each home comes with things most foster kids never have, like love, mentors, a bed, or most important a stable environment.
"We have a couple who lives here at this home with the boys,” Hubbard said. “Their names are Tony and Lauren, and they are just like parents to the kids who live here."
The staff is looking to help four more foster kids entering their program. Paula Hubbard, now the daughter of Rachel Hubbard and her husband is 23 years old. Ten years later and she still remembers being in the same boat as the four kids living here. She said the program extending its age range to 21 helped her manage her money, get a degree and buy her first car debt free. A frame hanging on the living room wall may sum it up best. It reads "For I know the plans I have for you plans to give you hope and future," Jeremiah 29:11
"I was 13 when I first came to the ranch,” Paula said. “This program is extremely important because a lot of kids in foster care don't have the support and encouragement of foster parents other than the ranch."
The girl’s home for 16 to 21 has been open for a few years now, and staff said that hundreds of kids have left and become successful and stable. Right now they work with 32 kids, and like all non-profits, there's a way you can help. That information can be found by clicking here.