Eustolia Farias, a member of the Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) Young Leaders program, provided testimony at a Senate hearing in support of SB 1103, which would provide unemployed and underemployed individuals and young adults with additional opportunities to access and complete High-Roads Training Programs to secure a quality, living wage job. The OYC Young Leaders program, led by the Alliance for Children’s Rights, trains young adults who have experienced foster care or extended foster care (ages 18-26) to become impactful change agents in Los Angeles and across the state.
As convener of the L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative, The Alliance for Children’s Rights launched the OYC Young Leaders program to empower young adults to use their collective experience to shape the future of foster care. The program is a one-year paid leadership academy where young adults learn new advocacy skills, practice public speaking, engage in strategic story-telling and much more. Part of the experience includes having the young leaders put these new skills into practice. Like Eustolia, several young leaders have provided public testimony in support of state legislation or have presented recommendations to key county bodies, such as the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services Director’s Advisory Council. Additionally, these young leaders have played a key role in shaping the OYC policy agenda.
Integrating the voice of youth with lived foster care experience can be a very powerful advocacy tool, which is why it is important to have young leaders share how proposed legislation could support or impede their ability to advance in their education and career. Eustolia began her welding program at both Los Angeles City College and Pasadena City College three years ago. Only being able to work part-time, financial stress and long commutes took a toll on her. Although the technical engineering department gave her an award for being an overachiever, Eustolia has not been able to complete her education. Expansion of High Roads Training Partnerships could help young adults like Eustolia to pursue additional training to grow in their careers and has the potential to disrupt multi-generational poverty.
SB 1103 would require the California Workforce Development Board, in partnership with the Office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, to establish and administer the Lifting Families Out of Poverty Workforce Training Supportive Services Program for participants in High Road Training Programs. Upon appropriation by the legislature, this program would make grants of up to $5,000 per low-income workforce participant, available per year, to help them complete these important training programs.
The bill would also require the California Workforce Development Board to develop additional High Road Training Program partnerships to help address the displacement of workers in the Central Valley, including farm workers, and to support disconnected youth and youth at-risk of disconnection. Young adults were disproportionately impacted economically by the Great Recession due to their lack of work experience and lower level of skill attainment. Their labor force participation rate has remained stagnant despite the country’s recent economic growth. SB 1103 could help change that trajectory.
For more information on the OYC Young Leaders Program, please contact OYC Director Lauri Collier at the Alliance for Children Rights at [email protected].