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September/October 2001Vol. 2, No. 5National Foundations Fund New Initiative for Foster Care Youth

What's in store for the approximately 100,000 young people between the ages of 16 and 21 who are leaving or have left the foster care system in the United States? According to studies, the answer has traditionally been higher rates of incarceration, homelessness, leaving school, unemployment, unwanted pregnancies, and lower access to good health care. The new Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative Inc., based in St. Louis, Missouri, plans to help change that trend.

Created jointly by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs, the $18 million initiative will not provide direct services to foster care youth, but will support successful State and community-based efforts through grants, technical assistance, and coalition building. Beginning in October of 2001, grants will be authorized on an unsolicited basis, eventually reaching 15 to 20 States in the next three years. Non-profit groups in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Nashville will be among the first recipients.

Grants will help non-profit groups assist foster care youth in the areas of education, employment, health care, and housing. The initiative will disseminate best practices among policy makers and practitioners for helping foster youth transition to independent living. It will also create a new electronic network to connect foster youth to resources and to each other.

"Every State has some independent services that are limited in scope and the number of kids they reach," said Gary Stangler, former head of the Missouri Department of Social Services who will serve as director of the initiative. "I think people know that kids can't walk out at 18 and make it on their own. We want to offer second chances to kids who have exited from foster care."

Additional information about the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative can be found at:

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Search the archives of the Children's Bureau Express for articles related to independent living (

Visit the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information for a copy of Title IV-E Independent Living Programs: A Decade in Review. (Note: this is no longer available.)