As a faith-based organization, the purpose of Direction 61:3 is to help youths transition from foster care into society as thriving adults, says Myron Wilson, the group's founder and executive director.
"We consider the building of relationships with foster youth prior to aging out as imperative to their success. Special events, skills and career assessments, fun days, and foster family support are all components to helping foster youth prepare for their shift out of the foster care system," adds Myron, who has a doctorate degree in theology/theological studies.
Registered with the state of Texas in 2017, this ministry has full nonprofit status as a 501(c)(3) organization and was licensed in December 2020 by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as a child placing agency. At what's fondly called "The Farm," the main office and 4.7-acre property that will provide for future foster/aged out community of homes and programming facilities, is relocated just north of Baylor Hospital in McKinney. With a variety of tiny homes to larger foster homes, this location will have the potential to house up to 50 youths. Additional residential properties of the nonprofit in Collin and Denton County include Oak Creek Place, Brotherhood, Heritage House, Zoie's Place, Tony’s Place and this summer will include the newest residence, Anchored.
The value of providing physical, emotional and educational support among aging-out foster youth is evident, given that foster care national statistics indicate there are approximately 400,000 youths (newborn to 21 years old) typically in foster care across America. On average, a child in foster care can experience eight or more different placements during their time in care. Eighty percent of youths in foster care struggle with mental health, compared with approximately 18 to 22 percent of the general population. Less than 3 percent of youth who age-out of foster care will earn a college degree.
“When our youth aging out of foster care are provided a sense of belonging in a stable, loving and encouraging environment, we can forever change the direction of their lives for the better," explains Myron.
Those wishing to assist this group can consult their Amazon Wish List, which highlights sought-after items such as gift cards, bedding, household goods and cleaning supplies.
Another way to assist is to provide respite care for the group's house parents, especially for weekends or evenings. One such volunteer, Angie Jones, says, “My simple involvement with Direction 61:3 has been a great blessing in my life. I don’t think people realize the many ways to get involved directly or indirectly that help our foster youth. It has not only made a difference in their lives, but mine, too.”
Myron says, “There are many more youth aging out of foster care that need our help. With the generosity and resources available from our churches, families, businesses and community as a whole, together we can impact more lives and ensure youth aging out of foster care will thrive as adults."