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Achieving Independence Center A New Vision for Transitioning Youth.

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Presentation on theme: "Achieving Independence Center A New Vision for Transitioning Youth."— Presentation transcript:

1 Achieving Independence Center A New Vision for Transitioning Youth

2 Background Each year approximately 20,000 young people are discharged from the nation's foster care system, having reached the age at which they are no longer eligible for services. The age of discharge is generally 18, although many states continue to provide foster care services to young people until they are 21 or 23 years old.

3 New Strategies for Youth Transition Initiatives The Achieving Independence Center is a one-stop center designed to help young people in foster care achieve their future goals of self sufficiency. Offering non- traditional hours, flexible scheduling accommodating in-school and out-of-school youth and on-site job training, the AI Center is dedicated to providing support and real life tools for youth who want to make an investment in their future.

4 Collaboration No single agency has the expertise to effectively provide all the services and coordinating the efforts of many separate programs with different operating procedures. In addition, continually referring clients across town to various different offices usually prevents them from benefiting from a single comprehensive service delivery approach to their diverse problems.

5 Municipal Leadership Initial funding for the AIC was provided by the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation [PWDC] and the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHC). It describes itself as a one-stop gateway to services for youth transitioning from foster care into independent livinga collaborative, comprehensive service delivery system that will ensure that transitioning youth have access to a range of services that meet their individual transition needs.

6 Partnership AIC brings together a number of local service agencies at one convenient location. Administration of the center and coordination of all its various component service deliverers has been contracted by the funding agency to ARBOR E&T LLC, a private firm well known for its work with welfare and workforce delivery programs. [ARBOR currently operates one-stop employment centers throughout the country.]

7 Why A New Vision? Increase program capacity Improve service quality Proactive strategy to meet federal performance standards Improved outcomes for youth

8 Improved Outcomes for Youth Competency Area Outcome Self Sufficiency The youth has a job that pays a living wage; has a safe place to live; is able to avoid reliance on public assistance. Knowledge and skillsThe youth has the necessary training or education to find a job that pays a living wage Social supportsThe youth has a positive social network and community involvement. High-risk behaviorsThe youth is successful at avoiding behaviors that become barriers to self-sufficiency, e.g. substance abuse, criminal activities, becoming a teenage parent. Physical/mental healthYouth can maintain both physical and mental health by understanding needs and accessing appropriate services. Self-perceptionsThe youth perceives her/himself as competent and empowered to ask for what they need

9 Membership Model Youth are members of the center as long as they are eligible Members select the services they need and want Members have rights and responsibilities Membership promotes ownership of the center

10 Main AIC Services Life Skills Educational Support Employment and Training Housing Assistance Computer Literacy Mentoring Linkage to other resources

11 On Site Service Providers Arbor, E&T – a nationally recognized workforce development organization provides management for the Center, assessment [ACLSA], case management, JRT and life skills training Temple University – educational support and mentoring CCP – computer literacy and career counseling PHEAA Planned Parenthood – healthy relationships Action AIDs – HIV prevention Phila Youth Network -- Internships, Summer employment, full & part time employment WCRP – housing education and assistance Valley Youth House – transitional housing TUNY Day Care Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Goodwill – on the job hospitality skills training PathwaysPA – female mentoring Father Day Rally – male mentoring O Court Mobil Life Skills

12 AI Center Operations Team Lead Agency Co-located service providers DHS Staff

13 Achieving Independence Partnership AI Center Department of Human Services Department of Public Welfare Philadelphia Workforce Development Corp. Philadelphia Youth Network

14 Enrollments

15 School Participation

16 Hub and Spoke Model Members and Coaches Employment Services Housing Services Education Services Hands-on Training Mentoring Healthy Relationships

17 Orientation Assessment Enrollment Orientation Assessment Enrollment DHS Referral Orientation Welcome Tour Service Overview Assessment ACLSA Referral Follow-up and Coaching Enrollment Member Development Plan (MDP)

18 Life Skills Educational Support Employment Services Hands-on Training Housing Assistance Computer Literacy Mentoring Healthy Relationships Linkage to other resources Coaching & MDP updates Real Skills for Success Real Skills for Success

19 Maintain MDP Refer to and Monitor Services Members and Partners Solve Problems Coaching process

20 Determine Work Readiness Status Conduct Work Readiness Training Place in Job Coaching, Administration and Partners Employment process

21 Independence Café Full service café providing transitional jobs as a transition strategy At the AI Center youth learn to work by working. Youth learn the skills they need to succeed at work – and earn while they learn. The Hospitality Skills Training Program operates from the AI Center – in a fully operating euro-style café serving the general public. Youth work alongside staff preparing food, providing customer service, operating cash registers and maintaining a sanitary and professional retail environment. Youth learn to plan and implement a marketing plan, maintain inventory and prepare cash receipts for deposit. Training includes food safety certification. Upon completion, youth are qualified for employment in the fast growing hospitality industry.

22 Mentoring process Recruit Mentors Match with Members Provide Service Disengage Screen & Train

23 Education process Assess Need LearningTesting Completion Design Individualized Curriculum

24 Backpack Challenge Philadelphia youth in foster care who attended an end-of-summer workshop promoting higher education were in for a pleasant surprise. Each youth received a backpack filled with school supplies, health and beauty aids, T-shirts, CD players, and other items. Sixty-two filled backpacks were donated by Arbor and ResCare employees and AIC partner agencies in response to Arbors Backpack Challenge. During the three-week Challenge, Arbor encouraged staff and partners to donate the backpacks and their contents to support youth from the AIC who are returning to high school as seniors or entering or returning to college.

25 Healthy Relationships process Referred or Recruited Individual Support Sexuality Education Peer Education Health Access Educated Member

26 Housing process Other AIC services Housing Education Self- Sufficiency Protected Environment Referred

27 Success Factors The most important reason for the success of the Achieving Independence Center is the skill and dedication of its professional staff. No matter which of the various agencies they work for, AIC staff is committed to improving the lives and prospects of the youth served at the center.

28 Success Factors Use of the one-stop model. AIC has assembled the expertise of many diverse agencies in one location. This allows it to meet the multiple and overlapping needs of its clients without a lot of inefficient cross referrals among service providers.

29 Success Factors Contracting AICs management to a special lead agency. The one-stop model requires daily coordination between its constituent partners, many of which follow dissimilar operating and financial procedures. DHS has wisely assigned this task to ARBOR E&T, an independent agency skilled in the coordination of multiple service providers. As lead agency, ARBOR is responsible for the following activities: Daily management of the AIC center, including planning, scheduling, trouble- shooting, finances, and record keeping. Setting goals and performance measures for all the other partner agencies and ensuring that they are met. Ensuring smooth coordination among the partner agencies through weekly meetings and constant communication. Solving problems that arise between partners. Keeping records on the progress of clients and reporting through the management information system. Measuring customer satisfaction; holding focus groups with clients and stakeholders; managing the centers continuous quality improvement [ISO9000] program. ARBOR staff also provides core client services like assessment, development of members individual plans and on-going coaching. In this role, the lead agency can schedule and coordinate the services provided by other agencies in best interest of clients.

30 Success Factors Services provided. The mix of services provided at AIC is particularly relevant to the needs of young people who are becoming independent in the world. Moreover, AIC services are provided in particularly effective ways: AICs programs have a long eligibility period. Members can be served anytime between ages 16 and 21. Some members have remained in program for two years. Most previous Independent Living programs lasted only 90 days, not enough time to deal with difficult problems. AIC services are customized to meet the members needs. The concept of membership promotes camaraderie and a sense of ownership among the centers users. A wide variety of services are offered, dealing with almost every facet of a youths journey to self-sufficiency. Each member receives an assessment and an individualized plan tailored to his/her specific needs. AICs clients have very diverse needs and a one- size-fits-all service philosophy would not work. The provision of hands-on counseling through coaches and mentors provides needed support to this young population. Provision of training in life skills is relevant and effective. Training in computer skills is vital to success in todays economy.

31 Success Factors The centers image and atmosphere. Participation is AIC is voluntary; members have to want to go there. Although AIC is well publicized among its potential client group, if the members do not come in, the best services in the world will go for naught. AIC is usually packed. How do they do it? AIC does not look like a government program. It is in a convenient location and flexible hours make it a desirable place for services. The centers atmosphere is informal. The coaches and mentors work hard to build trust among the youths. Confidentiality is respected. AIC is a safe place where youths feel free to explore ideas and express emotions. Diversity is valued and respected. It is all right to be different. The center has cool things to attract and motivate kids: computers, sex education, points and payments for meeting milestones. There is always lots going on at AICan important consideration for teenagers with short attention spans. Members can always be involved in something. Workshops, courses and other activities fill every day. The center offers with-it special events like arts projects. AIC staff is unfailingly concerned, courteous, and helpful: good role models for their youthful clients.

32 Additional Information When setting up the AIC center, the first principle was Youth Come First. The AIC has more than succeeded at accomplishing this goal.

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