Saturday, May 05, 2007

Transitional living village, mentoring program and grant to aid in adoption of older children

Alameda County OKs funding to help foster care program
Fremont company receives money to match 20 children with mentors

The Argus, April 28, 2007.

Alameda County supervisors are putting money and muscle into programs for youths in foster care and for hard-to-adopt older children.

This week they did the following:
-Approved a $25,000, three-month contract with Be a Mentor Inc. of Fremont to match 20 foster children with mentors.

-Authorized a two-year, $1.8 million contract with Oakland-based Family Builders by Adoption to arrange adoptions and legal guardianships for children ages 9 and older.

-Signed off on a three-month, $35,500 contract with E.C. Reems Community Services to provide life skills training for 14- to 21-year-old males in or exiting foster care.

Chet Hewitt, director of the county's Social Services Agency, said about 2,724 are in foster care throughout the county.

Once they leave foster care at age 18, he explained, they often lack knowledge of life skills, experience and a support system necessary for a successful adulthood.

Without this backing, Hewitt said, these youth are at high risk for poverty, homelessness, crime, illness, early childbearing and a lack of education.

In March, as one way to address these needs, supervisors approved a $150,000 study to assess whether the Fred Finch Youth Center in Oakland is appropriate for a transitional housing complex for as many as 60 former foster children.

They would receive job and educational assistance, health care, and training in independent living skills if the village concept is approved and developed.

The county also has received a $1.8 million state grant, through 2009, to aid in adoption of older foster care children. This is the money that will subsidize the Family Builders by Adoption program.

The mentoring program will match foster youths ages 11 to 18, and former foster youths ages 19 to 24, with screened and trained volunteer mentors.

The after-school life skills program will include computer training, job application preparation, interview and money management skills.


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