It’s been awhile since I posted on my blog, but not because of lack of interest. As often happens to all of us, other pressing issues interfered with what I really enjoy doing. That doesn’t mean that I have not been thinking about the 450,000+ kids in foster care today.
I’ve been following the federal budget proposals, with a keen eye towards how this might impact children and youth in the child welfare system. I’m a tad concerned that AmeriCorp may be negatively impacted in the 2011 budget. So what does this have to do with child welfare, you might ask. Well, for starters, AmeriCorp often benefits the most vulnerable populations, of which kids in foster care are one. And I’ve been thinking a great deal about what great connections might be made (or expanded upon) between the two programs.
Here’s how I started down the path of thinking. Over the years, I’ve seen many foster youth turn to the military as a means of escaping the negative environments of their childhood and to provide that sense of family and comradery that is often absent as youth age out of care after experiencing a series of homes and schools. That’s great for some kids, but not all are cut out for the military life. Enter, AmeriCorp. Maybe a hybrid….Foster Corp? Not quite Peace Corp, but with a similar slant. Something like Independent Living programs with a strong service AND vocational component.
This has me recalling the Job Corp programs we (social workers) often used as a transitional living/educational program for young adults not quite ready to be on their own. (How many of us were truly ready to be on our own at 18 years?!) So is there an opportunity and/or need to have something less structured than Job Corp, more structured than Independent Living? And what better way to improve outcomes for youth aging out than to provide opportunities to engage in community service!
Maybe this already exists…? If so, I hope someone will read this and share details, as I’d certainly be interested. In these economic times, I believe it behooves us to make as many linkages as possible.