PHOENIX (CBS5) -
When you hear the letters CPS, you likely think of kids in bad situations and in need of a protector; that's where Child Protective Services is supposed to come in. But when the child turns 18, they outgrow the system. So what's next? A Valley church is holding a fundraiser to collect toiletries for these young adults.
"You'll always need a little bit of support," said Diamond Martinez, who began living in foster care when she was 12.
"I remember being at some apartments and next thing I knew, CPS was there, and they were called and me and my siblings were being taken to a shelter," she said.
A year ago she turned 18, aged out of the system, and had a 2-year-old daughter to support.
"I was kind of worried because I didn't know where would I end up and where would I live," Martinez said.
"Once they age out, if they don't go into a transitional living program, they end up either on the streets or in jail," said Angel Bishop, who has adopted two daughters out of foster care.
Bishop is with Phoenix First Assembly and is collecting suitcases full of toiletries so these young adults can focus on the bigger picture. She says there are options for young adults leaving CPS, such as transitional housing, but with 11,000 kids in the system right now, resources are limited.
"I can sit here and spit out numbers to you, but to actually see these kids, they're children," she said.
Most kids when they age out leave with nothing but the clothes on their back and a trash bag full of belongings. But with this program, they can leave with a suitcase full of essential items that we take for granted, like soap, toothpaste and deodorant.
When Martinez aged out, she and her daughter received suitcases, which she says was one less thing to worry about. Now she's going to school and taking care of her daughter full time.
"I'm working on being a preschool teacher," Martinez said.
If you'd like to help, you can stop by Phoenix First Assembly near Cave Creek Road and Sweetwater Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and drop off your suitcase full of necessities. For a list of what they are collecting, visit: http://www.phoenixfirst.org/.
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