Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) - convened by the Alliance for Children’s Rights
On July 9, 250 youth-serving practitioners and system leaders came together at the California Endowment to deepen their knowledge about innovative programs and best-practices that support foster youth success in higher education and the workforce. The Fostering Connections to Transition-Age Youth Self-Sufficiency Summit focused on strengthening connections among college campus foster youth support programs, workforce providers, juvenile probation, K-12 districts, community based agencies and L.A. County's child welfare system.
The LA OYC leveraged our public/private partnership, using existing resources, to launch and implement the first network of youth-driven, workforce system navigators. The OYC collaborated with LA County Workforce Development Aging and Community Services, the Department of Children and Family Services, and iFoster in 2019 to hire 63 foster youth to be TAY AmeriCorps Members across Los Angeles County. The navigators, are TAY AmeriCorps Members, who are hosted at America’s Job Centers of California, community colleges and other key partners—resulting in 1,800 foster youth connecting to educational and employment services within a six-month period. These current foster youth served as peer navigators, connecting other young people in foster care with the resources and skills needed to find employment and achieve success once they age out of the system. In Sep 2019, the TAY AmeriCorps program was honored as the “Best New AmeriCorps Program” by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Foster Youth College Advancement Project (FYCAP) - convened by John Burton Advocates for Youth
Through the efforts of the OYC Foster Youth College Advancement Project (FYCAP), LA County attained a 61% FAFSA completion rate for its foster youth who were high school seniors in 2019, increasing from 33% in 2018. The County was awarded a statewide “most improved” designation as a result of this 28-point increase, which can be attributed to the development of a FAFSA tracking mechanism, targeted technical assistance, the creation of foster-youth specific training materials and increased collaboration across LA County’s Office of Education, K-12 districts, Department of Children and Family Services, Probation Department and Office of Child Protection.
Additionally, John Burton Advocates for Youth, in partnership with UNITE-LA, worked with the LA County Department of Children and Family Services to require caregivers who provide placement to youth between 12-19 to complete 3 hours of postsecondary educational training. A comprehensive training curricula and facilitator’s guide was created in both English and Spanish to support trainers to implement this curricula both locally and statewide.
OYC Foster Youth at Work - convened by UNITE-LA & the Alliance for Children’s Rights
After a year of planning and coordination, L.A. County launched a coordinated foster youth referral process in March 2019 between the Department of Children & Family Services, the seven workforce boards, and over 40 local youth workforce centers. In Fiscal Year 18-19, a total of 757 foster youth participated in a paid work experience, 709 foster youth completed job skills training, and 290 foster youth completed at least 100 hours of work experience. OYC partner UNITE-LA is working with Harder + Co Community Research to develop a case study highlighting lessons learned from the new referral process and recommendations for continuous improvement.
L.A. County’s seven workforce boards signed an agreement in spring 2019 with L.A. County DCFS, Probation, and the Office of Education setting ambitious goals to ensure all foster and system-involved youth participate in 100 hours of work experience by age 16 and 300 hours by age 18. The partners began meeting in the fall to discuss identifying baseline data and developing an implementation plan for the agreement.
The OYC made great strides in developing a Career Readiness Guide for foster youth that is designed to help youth, social workers, community partners, and caregivers understand age-appropriate activities to begin to explore career options and gain early work experience starting at age 14.