LOS ANGELES – Leaders from across Los Angeles County will gather today to make commitments in support of youth who are transitioning out of the foster care system because of their age. Los Angeles County has the nation’s largest foster-youth population, with more than 10,000 current and former foster youth ages 14 to 24.
The convening hosted by the LA Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC), is the fourth in a series of community action roundtables held across the nation to strengthen youth employment efforts as part of the YES Project, a national youth employment campaign led by America’s Promise Alliance.
“Like their peers outside the system, foster youth have hopes, want a good education, and dream of a fulfilling and meaningful life. For most, however, these simple hopes are challenges to fulfill,” said Lauri Collier, director of the Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC). “That’s why we’re bringing together young people, policymakers, and organizations working to help transition-age youth move from foster care into education and workforce opportunities. This is an urgent issue and there’s much to be done.”
The attendees at the roundtable will include representatives of nonprofits, social service agencies, the office of the mayor, and Hilda Solis, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Attendees will hear an update on the inaugural year of TAY AmeriCorps, which employs transition-age youth (TAY) to help support their peers in continuing their educations and/or entering the workforce. The goal of the meeting is for partner organizations to make specific commitments toward increasing opportunities for transition-age foster youth.
“Providing employment for our young people is one of the best investments we can make, and for many of our most vulnerable youth, including our foster youth, a consistent job can put them on the right path for lifelong success,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Both the education and workforce development systems frequently struggle to serve foster youth adequately. Front line child welfare workers often are unaware of changing regulations and resources, and youth face a myriad of difficulties navigating the bureaucracies that impact
their lives. Transition-age foster youth often face poor outcomes: they graduate from high school in four years at a rate of 47% compared to 81% of the general student population in California. More than 50% of older youth leaving foster care will be unemployed at age 24.
Transition-age youth also are at higher risk of homelessness, pregnancy, poverty, and involvement with the criminal justice system.
“The LA OYC unites the many and varied voices working to support our young people transitioning from foster care. Their collective power to affect change cannot be underestimated,” said U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA).
Takeaways from the Los Angeles roundtable will inform actions communities across the country can take to increase youth employment and put more young people on a path to self-reliance and future prosperity.
“For young people, securing early employment can inform their professional pathways and lead to meaningful work, robust careers, and strengthened confidence,” said Nathaniel Cole, senior director of strategic initiatives and partnerships at America’s Promise Alliance. “Helping young people in their employment journey looks different in every community, and in Los Angeles County, this means supporting foster youth in their transition out of the foster care system. Los Angeles County has the potential to serve as a model for cities across the country in this area.”
America’s Promise Alliance is the driving force behind a nationwide movement to improve the lives and futures of America’s youth. Its work is anchored in the belief that every young person deserves to succeed, and every adult is responsible for making that happen. By bringing together hundreds of national nonprofits, businesses, community and civic leaders, educators, citizens, and young people, the Alliance does what no single organization can do on its own: catalyze action on a scale that reaches millions of young people. www.AmericasPromise.org
The YES Project is possible thanks to the generous support of AT&T, Citi Foundation and State Farm.