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What Happens When You “Age Out” of Foster Care? Annual Workshop and Information Fair Help Essex County, NJ Foster Youth Explore Their Options.

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Presentation on theme: "What Happens When You “Age Out” of Foster Care? Annual Workshop and Information Fair Help Essex County, NJ Foster Youth Explore Their Options."— Presentation transcript:

1 What Happens When You “Age Out” of Foster Care? Annual Workshop and Information Fair Help Essex County, NJ Foster Youth Explore Their Options

2 A Collaborative Effort since 2007 Partners include: Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County, Family Part Child Advocacy Center

3 Goal of the Aging Out Program: Help prepare teens and young adults for the transition from foster care to independence by: Educating them about their rights and entitlements Providing important information about education and career planning Encouraging youth to advocate for themselves

4 Need for the Program: New Jersey Child Welfare Statistics for 2010: 7,537 NJ youth were in out-of-home placements Over 1,200 of these youth were in Essex County 10,630 NJ older youth (age 13-21) were under State Supervision (may or may not be in out-of-home care) Source: Advocates for Children of New Jersey, New Jersey Kids Count 2011: The State of Our Children and New Jersey Kids Count Pocket Guide 2011: The State of Our Counties

5 Need for the Program (continued) This population is at high risk for: Educational deficits Economic insecurity Homelessness Early child-bearing Other adverse outcomes

6 Almost 150 youth attend the event in Newark with their Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) Case Workers, foster parents, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs)

7 Program Strategies, Part 1: Education and Career Fair organized by Junior League featuring exhibitors from: ▫Colleges and technical schools ▫Apprenticeship programs ▫Volunteer/service programs ▫Social service organizations ▫Government agencies ▫Scholarship and test prep programs

8 Youth and Case Workers crowded Exhibitors’ tables at the Education and Career Fair

9 Program Strategies, Part 2: “Aging Out, Don’t Miss Out” Workshop presented by Rutgers Law School Child Advocacy Clinic Topics include: How to put together a transitional plan How to pay for college or job training How to access housing Other rights and entitlements to assistance

10 Workshop is accompanied by comic book, which engages the foster youths’ attention

11 Program Strategies, Part 3: Former foster youths speak about coming of age: A young man described his life-changing participation in NJ SEEDS (Scholars, Educators, Excellence, Dedication, Success) program A Junior League member who manages a New Jersey Family Success Center spoke about transitioning from foster care and establishing a foundation for foster youth Representatives from FosterClub coordinated a role-playing program called Independence City that asked youth to think strategically about how to negotiate life challenges such as getting a job, renting an apartment, dealing with health issues, etc.

12 The auditorium was filled to capacity for the discussion lead by FosterClub

13 Key Contributors to Success: Active support from Family Court System – Youth required to attend with DYFS Case Workers Strong collaboration by Community Partners – Many committed volunteers Over 30 Exhibitors provide information Compelling motivational speakers Incentives for youth participation (raffle prizes) “Turnkey” materials have made the event replicable in many other NJ counties

14 Junior League volunteers raffled iPods and other prizes to youth who spoke to a minimum number of Exhibitors

15 Support for the Program: “Aging Out Seminars provide an opportunity for youth who are leaving the child welfare system to learn about community based organizations which offer support in the areas of education, employment, finance and social assistance. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the Junior League, over thirty local organizations participated in the successful event in Essex County,” -- Superior Court Judge Sallyanne Floria, July 2011

16 Superior Court Judge Sallyanne Floria embraces a foster youth attending Education and Career Fair

17 Impact of the Program: To date, an estimated 600 foster youth from Essex County have attended the Education and Career Fairs Youth have found the program very helpful, commenting: “The best thing about the program was learning about scholarships for school…” and “I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about DYFS and programs available to me.”

18 Success Stories: One youth who attended the 2009 Education and Career Fair expressed an interest in the health care field, after speaking to an exhibitor from a college with a nursing program. The following year, she was enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in nursing.

19 Success Stories, continued: Another youth was invited to attend the Education and Career Fair just before he was sent back home to live with his mother. His DYFS case was closed, but he and his mother attended anyway. Until they attended the program, they were unaware that the youth would still be eligible for college funding through the NJ Scholars program, based upon his time in foster care. They were able to get information on colleges and feel comfortable that financial assistance would be available to them. The mother and youth were very appreciative of the information provided.

20 Program Expansions Planned in 2012: Full-Day Conference to include: ▫Opportunity to attend two seminars from a menu of five offered (or an all-morning workshop on "how to get into college”); ▫Information Fair with 30 or more educational, vocational, and social service exhibitors; ▫Performance by a hip-hop group which will address issues related to self-advocacy, making "wise" choices, and strategic planning; ▫A youth motivational speaker at the conclusion of the conference. Screening of Documentary Film on Aging Out for Key Stakeholders ▫Possible attendees include Court Staff, DYFS Case Workers, CASA Advocates, others interested in child welfare policy

21 For more information, please contact: ▫The Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills (JLOSH) at (973) 379-9655 / /;  Sara Agress, Junior Leagues of NJ State Public Affairs Committee Delegate ▫The Junior League of Montclair-Newark (JLMN) at (973) 746-2499 / /;  Patricia Devine Harms, Junior Leagues of NJ State Public Affairs Committee Chair ▫The Child Advocacy Center at Rutgers Law School-Newark at (973) 353-3196 / /  Nana Wilson, Project Director, CAC Aging Out Project  Randi Mandelbaum, Clinical Professor of Law; Director, Child Advocacy Clinic

22 About the Junior Leagues and the Rutgers Child Advocacy Center: ▫Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women, developed as civic leaders, who make a demonstrable impact on their communities. ▫The Rutgers Law School’s Child Advocacy Center (CAC) has a twofold mission of (1) serving the needs of children and families who are at risk and living in poverty in Newark and the surrounding areas, and (2) educating law students to be thoughtful and highly skilled practitioners.

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