Program to Prep Youth in Foster Care for Workforce
Young adults aging out of the foster care system face difficult issues and have few resources to help them cope. While attending college will be an option for some, most will face the more immediate concern of how to survive in a world they know nothing about. A new program staring in Nebraska, hosted by Project Everlast and Goodwill Industries, aims to help rectify this problem.
Titled the Project Employment Program, the first day of the one-week program began Monday. The aim is to introduce essential workforce skills to young adults who have aged out of the foster care system without finding an adoptive home. Most of these teens have very little understanding about work expectations, a dilemma that often leads to a life of struggle.
“Project Employment is a one-week curriculum-based program that’s going to help young people prepare for work. They’re going to learn about what work ethic is, how to develop a resume, how to do an interview and really how to sell themselves in getting a job,” Project Employment spokesperson Linda Kizzier told local news stations.
Any child that turns 18 before they are adopted by a forever family is considered to have “aged out” of the system. An estimated 40-63 percent of kids who age out of the system will not complete high school. Up to 55 percent of children without families will remain unemployed and of those who are employed, most will remain below the poverty level. Around 40 percent will face financial hardship, 42 percent will be arrested, and up to 60 percent of young women will become pregnant within 12-18 months after leaving.
Some youth leave the system before 18. Sierra Johnson, 20, is one of those individuals. She has been living on her own and working in retail for more than two years now.
“I could never ask my mom or my dad how they got jobs because they don’t have careers,” Johnson told KPTM. Johnson wants to own her own business one day and is looking for new skills that will one day lead her to her goal.
Michelle Rivera, a case manager supervisor for Covenant Kids, believes programs like Project Employment should be a requirement for kids aging out of the system in all states.
“I think it’s essential,” she said. “The kids who age out of care are basically told good bye and good luck without being provided with the tools they need to get on their feet. It should be mandatory for foster kids everywhere to attend work training.”