Many teens in the foster system are more focused on making it through the week than preparing for the future.
Between juggling school, home placements, friends and extracurricular activities, many have little time to develop the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce.
Fostering Success, a 10-week employment training program for 18- to 23-year-olds who have already transitioned out or are currently transitioning out of the Kentucky foster care system, hopes to change that.
The program is run by the Kentucky Department of Community-Based Services and the University of Kentucky School of Social Work.
Latasha Layne, Fostering Success’ program coordinator, said the program seeks to live up to its name by helping prepare young adults to be successful in the workforce.
“Fostering Success really helps foster youth understand the workforce and what’s expected of them,” Layne said. “It helps build time management skills, provides another level of accountability and helps young adults build confidence in their professional abilities.”
For the last two years, Fostering Success has partnered with businesses all over the state to provide job opportunities in a number of fields. There are currently around 80 worksites available to youth in the program, including automotive maintenance, pet grooming, nursing homes, animal hospitals, hair salons, construction companies, hotels, school systems and nonprofit organizations.
“We really do our best to match program participants with career fields they are interested in,” Layne said.
The state pays those in the Fostering Success program $10 per hour, so companies who partner with Fostering Success do not have to pay program participants for their work. Several worksite partners have found permanent employees through the program.
“This is a great incentive for local business owners because they essentially get free labor,” Layne said. “All we ask of companies is to provide job training and to communicate with job coaches who help those enrolled in the program.”
Layne said that the greatest benefit of partnering with Fostering Success is the opportunity to positively impact the next generation.
“Our worksite partners get to invest in the future,” Layne said. “It’s an opportunity for a business owner or manager to instill good values and a strong work ethic in kids who often lack for good role models in their lives.”
Jeff Culver is an independent living specialist in Jefferson County. His job is to work with youth who are transitioning out of foster care and help them plan for a successful future.
Culver said that Fostering Success helps fill in some important gaps for foster youth.
“Often, the guys and girls I work with have little to no outside support,” he said. “They need positive influences wherever they can get them, and a lot of times, the biggest supporters they have are the professionals they work with. So, to be able to step into this program and provide a summer job opportunity for someone gives them not only job experience, but also a supporter and a role model who can be a friend and offer advice.”
Blaine Hamilton, Southeast Christian Church’s Foster Care and Adoption Ministry leader, said the program provides a unique opportunity for the church to come alongside young adults in a pivotal stage of life.
“As a church, we can come alongside programs like Fostering Success that are already in place and do our part to show Christ’s love and care to vulnerable youth in our community,” Hamilton said. “This is a great opportunity for the people in our church body to come alongside someone and make an investment in their future.”
The Fostering Success program offers more than just a summer job. Program participants meet with a job coach who helps them with the interview process, teaches financial literacy and budgeting and provides professional development and constructive criticism.
“The program really opens up their eyes to what it takes to be an adult,” Layne said. “For many of them, the future is unclear, and this is one way we can help prepare them for where life takes them.”
For more information on how to partner with the Fostering Success program, contact Layne at firstname.lastname@example.org or (859) 257-5345.