Saturday, January 12, 2008

Transitional-age youth deserve to be a high priority

Improving services for youth exiting foster care a 'priority'
The Reporter, Jan. 11, 2008.

Vacaville,CA - Solano County will be assessing later this month its foster-care system for transitional-age youth.

The Board of Supervisors' Health and Social Services Committee will discuss the issue at its next meeting on Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. in the Board Chamber, 675 Texas St., Fairfield.

"Transitional-age youth and their needs are one of the highest priorities for Solano County," said Supervisor Barbara Kondylis, co-chair of the HSS Committee. "We all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure that the youth leaving foster care get a positive and strong start to their independent adult lives."

Dr. Sonja Lenz-Rashid, a licensed clinical social worker, will present research on Solano County's policies and services related to transitional-age youth emancipating from foster care. Service providers who focus on the needs of this target group are encouraged to attend.

"The goal of this meeting is to use the assessment findings to develop a county-wide plan to improve services for transitional-age youth emancipating from foster care," said Linda Orrante, Health and Social Services deputy director for child welfare services.

Based on interviews with service providers and focus groups with former foster youth, Lenz-Rashid has identified current gaps in services and recommendations for improvement. Her findings will address some of the following:

• transition planning;

• transitional housing for 16- to 19-year-olds who are emancipating;

• housing for 18- to 24-year-olds who are former foster youth;

• independent living skills programs;

• and, employment training.

The research was funded with a grant from the Zellerbach Family Foundation. Lenz-Rashid completed a Bay Area-wide examination of transitional age youth services in January 2006.

For more information about transitional-age youth and the presentation, call Orrante at 784-8331.

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