San Diego CA—Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT), San Diego Center for Children, Voices for Children and The San Diego Foundation today launched the Foster Youth Transitions Collaborative, a first-of-its-kind initiative that utilizes a technology-based solution to strengthen self-sufficiency for young people transitioning out of foster care. Utilizing the San Diego Center for Children Successful Transitions© platform, the Foster Youth Transitions Collaborative will create an online ecosystem where service providers and foster youth who opt in to the process can share information and develop individualized action plans that will empower all parties to provide and receive the proper tools needed to successfully transition into adulthood.
In San Diego County, there are approximately 2,858 children and teens in foster care, with an estimated 200 youth emancipating from the system each year. Most of these San Diegans will have no support or plan in place to secure a healthy, promising future, and one in three of these individuals will be homeless during their first two years after exiting foster care.
The Foster Youth Transitions Collaborative aims to help young people through the difficult transition by establishing a new, innovative model of care that extends from age 16 for youth served by San Diego Center for Children, through 18-26 as part of the JIT community, and all the way through age 35 with their Lasting Impact Fulfillment Tracking (LIFT) to measure lasting change and durable success. This represents an unprecedented 20-year window of engagement that has never been implemented in San Diego County until now, and is ultimately designed to inform, innovate and improve the way services are delivered to all foster youth in the future.
By shifting the current paradigm that separates foster youth services from adult resources to one that establishes a continuum of integrated supports that are responsive to the needs of San Diego foster youth, the Foster Youth Transitions Collaborative model strives to eliminate the duplication of services and many challenges that youth experience when accessing siloed systems of care.
The Foster Youth Transitions Collaborative builds on a growing partnership among service providers in San Diego County. By working with The San Diego Foundation to establish a permanent funding source for this initiative, JIT and the San Diego Center for Children are creating a sustainable model that will attract future partners.
“The San Diego Foundation Strong Families, Thriving Communities Initiative has been working for the past three years to strengthen collaboration in this sector, as well as identify new strategies and solutions that support the region’s most vulnerable population,” shared Brian Zumbano, Vice President, Chief Development & Stewardship Officer at The San Diego Foundation. “This collaboration between Just in Time, San Diego Center for Children, Voices for Children and The San Diego Foundation creates an exciting new model for donors to invest in because it maximizes the impact of the region’s charitable dollars that are supporting our foster youth.”
The collaborative program includes a comprehensive proprietary assessment to develop and implement individualized transition plans in the areas of housing, education and career development, medical and behavioral health, planning, communication and implementation skills, individual living skills and access to needed community-based resources. Other components of the program include integrating services to support transition plans, provide coaching and forming a county-wide think tank to more effectively address transition age foster youth needs. This will involve inviting other county leaders and organizations to join this collaboration.
Foster youth who opt into the initiative will have access to their individualized Transition Action Plan© through the web-based platform on any mobile device. The plan can then be shared with any identified service provider to ensure all support maps back to each foster youth’s specific needs. This web-based platform also allows for tracking outcomes and gathering data to identify service gaps.
San Diego Center for Children President and CEO, Dr. Moisés Barón stated, “Thanks to The San Diego Foundation, this invaluable partnership with Just in Time and Voices for Children will address the significant challenges of transitioning to adult life for youth in foster care with histories of complex trauma including physical, mental and emotional abuse. We believe that this partnership is key to establishing a collaborative effort to provide an integrated range of trauma-informed and culturally-relevant educational, therapeutic and support services to foster youth as they transition from foster care to independent living.”
Just in Time for Foster Youth Executive Director Don Wells said, “This collaborative program is a natural extension of our passion and commitment for community solutions that create a reliable network for young people who have been disconnected for significant periods of their lives. We’re fortunate to have a natural partner in San Diego Center for Children to help young people make the transition from foster care to self-sufficiency and well-being with less stress and more confidence because they own their plan. Together, we’ll continue to prove and improve the value of this collaborative work as those we serve become confident, capable and connected, and break the cycle of foster care.”
Wells added, “We’re excited by the opportunity to include many more service providers in the Collaborative. The more organizations learn about the potential to integrate our work for greater collective impact, the brighter the future for our San Diego community.”
The Foster Youth Transitions Collaborative has a goal of raising $1 million over three years to support the full implementation of the Foster Youth Transitions Collaborative and serve the needs of more than 450 transition age foster youth in our community. As the initiative expands, the goal is to bring more service providers in San Diego County into the collaborative to benefit more foster youth and improve the support system in the region.