Vol. 15, No. 2 • May 2011

Preparing Youth in Foster Care for Employment

Child welfare professionals, employers, and foster parents can take the following steps to safeguard the futures of adolescents who age out of foster care:

  • Ensure they have stable living arrangements.
  • Ensure that no child leaves the system without a lifelong connection to a committed, caring adult.
  • Prior to emancipation, youths should understand their rights and the process by which the court can ensure maximum privacy of juvenile records. Youth also need training in how to handle past legal issues when completing job applications.
  • Every youth, beginning at age 12 and no later than 14, needs to have a comprehensive transition plan that is updated annually. Team members must be accountable for achieving plan goals.
  • A transition plan should include a workforce preparation package to prepare youth for employment. This package should include a progressive program of job tours, job shadowing and mentoring, vigorous outreach to engage youth in opportunities for internships and volunteer experiences, and opportunities and support for part-time work beginning no later than age 16 and continuing through their emancipation from care.
  • Provide information to employers, particularly small businesses, on potential tax credits as an incentive for hiring foster youth.
  • Engage employers as partners with foster youth in such roles as mentor, tutor, and job coach.
  • Provide bus passes for foster youth who are in school and/or employed. Determine requirements for school, training, and work attendance associated with receiving the bus pass.
  • Develop support networks for emancipated youth through age 24.
  • Establish reasonable, flexible guidelines and a simplified “exception” process for safety and supervision of youth participating in age-appropriate independent activities (e.g. cooking, laundry, work experience, after-school sports, clubs).

Source: Lewis, L. (2004, Summer). Getting the Job Done: Effectively Preparing Foster Youth for Employment. Foundation Consortium for California’s Children & Youth. Sacramento CA. <http://tinyurl.com/69vpnyr>.

Copyright 2011 Jordan Institute for Families