Grant aids young people leaving foster care

Transitions Program will receive $100,000

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

A local program that helps young people transition out of foster care is receiving a $100,000 grant from a national nonprofit that focuses on those at-risk youth.

Innovative Services NW announced that its Transitions Program will be receiving the one-year, $100,000 grant from the Andrus Family Fund.

The Transitions Program serves people from 15 to 24 years old who currently are — or recently have been — in foster care.

This is the fourth grant Transitions has received from the Andrus Family Fund in six years, said program coordinator Chelsea Jackson. The three previous grants have provided about $100,000 a year in funding, including a three-year, $300,000 grant that is expiring.

This grant will help Transitions maintain its current services for about 65 young people who are dealing with the challenge of aging out of the foster care system, Jackson said.

Many former foster children head into life on their own without many basics — including family support — other people take for granted, said a news release from Innovative Services NW.

Within two to four years of leaving the foster care system, only 50 percent completed high school; fewer than half had jobs; 60 percent of the young women had given birth; and 25 percent had been homeless for at least one night, said the news release, citing a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report.

The Transitions Program helps its young clients build social skills, establish plans, advocate for themselves and access employment, education and housing resources.

The new funding also will help Transitions move forward into a much-needed role as a community coordinator, Jackson said.

“It will help us develop community partnerships,” Jackson said. “Something we’re lacking in the community is that providers don’t talk to each other. The grant allows us to create a forum here. We are reaching out to nine or 10 community partners who work with these youth.”