Summer program for young adults aging out of foster care launches in Kentucky

Young adults aging out of the foster care system can now get employment, job training and leadership skills through a summer youth program, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The cabinet says the program places the young adults in entry-level positions in Department for Community Based Services offices around Kentucky.

Gov.Matt Bevin, first lady Glenna Bevin and Health and Family Services Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson announced the program in Louisville Tuesday.

“The reason this program has come to fruition is because it is the right thing to do," Bevin said. “It is a way to integrate these kids into other facets of state government, into the private sector and beyond. It’s an opportunity for Kentucky to truly be the beacon of light on how this can work and should work in America."

The cabinet says the summer youth program is designed to help young people with skills and experience to prepare them for future employment. It begins June 1 and will run for 10 weeks. It will serve Kentucky’s foster youth between the ages of 17 and 23 who have a high school diploma or equivalent certification.

The statewide pilot project places young adults in office support assistant positions in local DCBS offices. The participants will support department staff through customer service and clerical duties, as well as possibly offering peer support to other youth transitioning from the state foster care program. The cabinet says the program participants will also be matched with mentors to guide them. 

To take part, the cabinet says participants were required to fill out a state application for interim employment and selection process. More than 100 individuals are expected to be served by the program, according to the cabinet.

The summer youth program’s goal is to improve outcomes and build employment and skills for participants, the cabinet says. 

With its news release about the program, the health and family services cabinet included the following statistics on foster care: 

"According to Annie E. Casey Foundation, national statistics on foster care show;

In Fiscal Year 2014, an estimated 238,230 young people exited foster care. Nine percent of those emancipated or aged out of the system. 

Of the 238,230 children who exited foster care, five percent spent five or more years in care.

One in five young people in foster care will become homeless after the age of 18.

Only 58 percent will graduate high school by the age of 19.

Seventy-one percent of young women are mothers by age 21.

At age 24, only half are employed.

Fewer than three percent will earn a college degree by age 25.

One in four will be involved in the justice system within two years of leaving foster care."

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