New Iinitiative Started to Help Youth Transition from Foster Care To Adulthood
February 27, 2013
Contact: Beth Rosenberg
(602) 266-0707 x206
(Phoenix, AZ) Children’s Action Alliance and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust yesterday launched a new initiative crafted to help youth who have been living in foster care make successful transitions to adulthood. The Arizona Youth Opportunities Initiative will inventory and evaluate existing services for youth who are leaving the foster care system, recommend services that might be networked together, find gaps in support services, and create new opportunities for foster care “graduates” to move on to higher education and life-long success.
“We want to make sure these young people have the same support systems that we provide to our own children,” said Belen Gonzalez, a Trust program officer who has led our work on this initiative. “It is about putting them in the best position for success. It is making sure they have at least one connection to a helpful, understanding adult in their lives.”
Every year in Arizona, more than 700 teenagers “age-out” of the foster care system, meaning they have reached their 18th birthday without finding a permanent family. Fewer than 3% of them will graduate from college. Without a family to turn to for support, many of them will face high rates of poverty, unemployment, incarceration and homelessness.
The Arizona project will benefit from numerous community partnerships and advice from The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, a national foundation working currently in 15 sites around the country. Together we will work to strengthen systems that help youth leaving foster care overcome challenges and find better opportunities. The Initiative will include the voices of the real experts, young people now living in foster care and young adults who grew up in the foster care system.
“It’s hard for any of us to imagine turning 18 and being alone in the world. So it’s no surprise that when foster care ends, these young people don’t know which way to go,” said CAA President and CEO, Dana Wolfe Naimark. “Thanks to this initiative, we can all help turn fear and uncertainty into opportunities for education and stability.”
At a reception on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, child advocates and leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic communities came together to celebrate the launch of this initiative. Community members welcomed new CAA staff member and manager of the Youth Opportunities Initiative, Meghan Arrigo.
“It is important for all of us to come together because the issue requires a greater and better response,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “Together we can make a larger impact.”
The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust seeks to help people in need, especially women, children and families; to protect animals and nature; and to enrich community life in the metropolitan areas of Indianapolis and Phoenix. www.ninapulliamtrust.org
Children’s Action Alliance is an independent voice for Arizona children at the state capitol and in the community. CAA works to improve children’s health, education, and security through information and action. www.azchildren.org