At July’s Peer Support Meeting, the area Chafee worker, Holli Gillam, spoke about the benefits of the Chafee Program. I have attached their brochure to this for further reading.
In 1999, the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Act was passed to provide funding for foster youth remaining in care up to or beyond the age of 18. It was created with the goal of assisting youth to achieve independence in early adulthood, providing funding for a high school diploma, vocational training, life skills training, budgeting, substance abuse prevention, preventative health (including alcohol and tobacco avoidance), job placement, and career assistance. It also created the Educational and Training Vouchers Program (ETV) for Youths Aging out of Foster Care, which provides up to $5000 annually for college tuition. Not only does the Chafee Act prepare foster children for the transition into adulthood, but it rewards their own efforts towards independence.
The child does not qualify for the Chafee program until they are 16, but if they are approaching 16 it’s a good idea to start talking about it. Typically, if a child is aging out of the system, they just want to “hurry up and get it over with”. They have to remain in the system in order to use the Chafee program, and that’s a difficult thing to talk them into. They are young and think everything will work out fine, yet 40-50% of these kids end up homeless after exiting care. Here are more statistics on homelessness with foster youth: http://www.fosterfocusmag.com/articles/foster-care-and-homelessness
Another problem is that many caseworkers forget to have this conversation with the foster youth. That’s where we come in!
Also, Debbie Sammelman has been in contact with a Missouri Carpenter’s Union representative who explained their apprenticeship program. The Union pays the youth while they are in this apprenticeship program, so essentially it is on the job training, and then they help them find employment following training. I personally know people who have gone through this program, and they pay well for an entry level position. Also, they pay increases substantially over time, making it a great career for someone who opts out of college. With college degrees being the focus in today’s society, trades are hurting for good quality workers. So, this is a great opportunity! Here is his information:
Paul Higgins, St. Louis - Kansas City Carpenter’s Regional Council - 314-570-2483
Here is the website for Chafee, if you’d like to read more: http://dss.mo.gov/cd/chafee/
If you would like to learn more about resources for older youth, we will be offering another Fostering Futures training session in December. Stay tuned for details!