May 2007Vol. 8, No. 4Foster Youth Employment Forums
A unique initiative in California has brought together representatives from county child welfare agencies and local workforce development programs to help foster youth with employment issues. In the fall of 2006, with funding from Casey Family Programs, New Ways to Work (NWW) partnered with the Child and Family Policy Institute of California to host a series of Foster Youth Employment Forums across the State. These provided an opportunity for both child welfare agencies and workforce development programs to learn about quality local programs, develop a working knowledge of each other's systems, and meet potential new partners for future collaboration on youth employment issues.
More than 450 county representatives from child welfare, workforce development, juvenile justice, education, State agencies, and other systems attended the forums to learn about effective strategies and programs for improving employment opportunities for foster youth. In addition, about 50 youth (primarily current and former foster youth) attended the forums and participated as keynote speakers, panelists, and participants in conversations about county services.
A number of recommendations emerged from the forum discussions. These ranged from recommendations for State policy to ideas for personal actions by participants that would help foster youth with training and experience in the workplace. Twenty-five promising practices were documented and shared. These included ideas for:
- One-stop, foster-youth-friendly services
- Career preparation
- Paid work experience
- Systems improvement
- Comprehensive websites
As a result of the Foster Youth Employment Forums, a number of resources are available on the NWW website. Read the summary report to find links to a PowerPoint presentation, full descriptions of the promising practices, and more: