Whitney Peeling
Release Date: 


Bestselling Author Vanessa Diffenbaugh and Strategist Isis Keigwin Launch
CAMELLIA NETWORK An Innovative Solution to Help Kids Aging Out of Foster Care
Launching at www.camellianetwork.org on August 20, 2012

Every year in the U.S. nearly 30,000 youth “age-out” of foster care, forced to leave the system when they reach a certain age without being adopted. What happens to these kids once they’re out of the system? Often they leave with only a bag of clothes and less than $250.00 (if any money at all) in their pocket. After that, the statistics tell a sad story.

  • More than 50% will end up homeless, incarcerated, uneducated and unemployed.
  • Within 4 years, 60% will have had children. Those children are twice as likely to be placed in foster care. The cycle continues.

The reality is that when a child has no home or family, they have no one to turn to for help with the big and small needs of everyday life; no one to guide them to success or through tough times.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh has a unique perspective; a foster parent herself, she has also written a bestselling novel about the journey of a teenager who has aged out of foster care. That book, The Langauge of Flowers, led Diffenbaugh on a quest to help teens aging out of the system. “In my travels promoting The Language of Flowers, I was awed by the response of early readers to my main character, Victoria,” says Diffenbaugh. “Over and over I heard—‘I didn’t know this was happening!’ followed immediately by ‘what can I do to help?’ I thought, ‘There has to be a way to channel all this positive energy and harness it to help these young people.’”

Early last year, partnering with strategist Isis Keigwin (who left a career as an executive at Ogilvy), Diffenbaugh began to sow the seeds for a unique social media website called Camellia Network, referencing the Victorian language of flowers in which camellia means “my destiny is in your hands.”

Recruiting youth across the country, they leveraged their personal networks to fulfill the needs of young people aging out. They intended to help as many kids as they could, but they ended up helping every kid who participated, and the line of people who wanted to be part of the network-- both kids and supporters--kept growing. Here, they believed, was a way to crowd-source the solution to the “aging out” problem, and this August – after a year of research and continued trials and preparation – everyone will be able to participate in this elegant solution to one of the country’s most hidden and longstanding problems.

On August 20th, Camellia Network will officially debut at www.camellianetwork.org with the goal of connecting all those who age out of the foster care system with the materials and support they need. This proven plan may significantly change the shape of the next generation right before our eyes.