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May 2006Vol. 7, No. 4Youth Create Their Own Emancipation Center

Involving youth in planning for their futures is one of the cornerstones of youth development. Ten youth in Napa, CA, recently took that involvement one step further by creating their own center for teens transitioning from foster care to independence—the first of its kind in the nation. The center, called V.O.I.C.E.S. (Voice Our Independent Choices for Emancipation Support), was started last fall by teens and young adults who themselves had been in foster care. The purpose of the center is to help transitioning youth with such issues as housing, transportation, employment, and education.

On the Move, a nonprofit community organization, helped bring together the youth with the directors of the relevant county agencies. But while adult coaches provided some assistance in starting the center, the youth themselves performed the bulk of the planning, fundraising, and heavy labor. Some of the youth now work at the center 10-25 hours per week. The county welfare department supplies one full-time staff member who works out of the center.

To find out more about V.O.I.C.E.S., contact Alissa Gentille, Project Director:

To find out more about On the Move, visit the website: