May is National Foster Care Month
While national attention in May turns to foster children for National Foster Care Month, local non-profit Junior League of San Jose wraps up its second year as a community leader creating better outcomes for foster youth aging out of the foster care system. The organization recently awarded $35,000 in grants to five local foster youth-serving organizations.
The Junior League of San Jose is an organization of women working to create a measurable impact in the lives of transitional-age foster youth, which includes approximately 500 youth ages 16 to 21 in Santa Clara County who are aging out of the foster care system.
The League utilizes an Issue-Based Community Impact (IBCI) model, which directs the volunteer efforts of the 600-plus members toward this focus of transitional-age foster youth, a group that has twice the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder compared to veterans, with half unemployed, a third homeless and a quarter incarcerated. Less than half complete high school, less than two percent finish college, and transitional-age foster girls and women are six times more likely to be pregnant by age 21.
Transitional-age foster youth became the primary focus of support for Junior League of San Jose in 2018, with strong attention given to preparing this group for education-to-career pathways, says Junior League of San Jose President Kimberly Le Deaux.
“If we can support transitional-age foster youth to be successful adults and provide them what they need to be part of our community, imagine what change we can bring to the community,” Le Deaux says. “JLSJ’s development process and continued communication with effective community partners in this focus area continues to inspire us and keep us connected to the worthy endeavor of improving our community.”
Two strategic grants of $5,000 each were awarded to Kids in Common and Child Advocates of Silicon Valley and will fund general programs that support Santa Clara County transitional-aged foster youth. Three community grants, which fund specific programs, were awarded to Unity Care and Pivotal at $10,000 each, and to Bill Wilson Center in the amount of $5,000.
In addition to funding, these organizations, and others, are supported by Junior League of San Jose’s trained volunteers. Members utilize their personal and professional skills to benefit the community.
Volunteers performed multiple mock interviews, resume reviews and similar professional development activities as part of Pivotal’s high school STEM program, a professional development and internship program for transitional-age foster youth in the community.
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Junior League of San Jose provided a day of gardening, deep cleaning and other services to Unity Care, which provides housing for 150 transitional-age foster youth, with plans to double to 300 by 2020.
“Ensuring that all young people have the support and guidance they need to become healthy, independent adults is something we all strive to provide,” said Frederick J. Ferrer, CEO of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. “The Junior League of San Jose’s support of our transitional-age youth aids foster youth in breaking the cycle of abuse and neglect, providing a more positive future for the most vulnerable in our community.”
The Junior League of San Jose is one of 291 Leagues in four countries under The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. umbrella, which holds the shared mission of promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.
Contact: Kate Payne
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