SARASOTA, FL – Children who are in foster care or are homeless/unaccompanied face major challenges due to disruptions within their families and to foster family or group home placements. To help teens dealing with these life upheavals to transition successfully from the state care system to independent living, the Junior League of Sarasota has awarded a grant of $7,458 to Safe Children Coalition (SCC) in support of its new Independent Living Life Skills program.
The specialized program, for teens ages 13-17 who are in foster care group homes or SCC’s Youth Shelter, will use a modified version of the “Ten Step Rites of Passage Model,” a life skills curriculum that was first implemented in the child welfare system in Los Angeles and used by the Boys & Girls Club of Stockton, Calif. This curriculum has spread throughout the U.S. and England, delivering successful outcomes for youth transitioning from foster care to independent living.
The Independent Living Life Skills program helps youth to succeed in school through motivational incentives and tutoring. Students are rewarded for participation and achievement with awards, gift certificates, movie passes, special holiday events, and – perhaps most importantly – positive attention in front of peers as well as ongoing encouragement. A “life skills specialist” is responsible for identifying gaps in the teen participants’ independent living skill sets and filling those gaps using the “Ten Step” curriculum.
Covid has had an adverse impact on teens in foster care. From health issues and loss of jobs or reduced work hours, to isolation and difficulties in staying engaged in virtual educational environments, the pandemic has been a hardship for youth who were already working hard to overcome their individual situations and becoming successful young adults.
“Children without a stable home environment face significant barriers to successful futures. Many of us take for granted a healthy home environment, which offers benefits including higher educational attainment, greater financial stability, better long-term health outcomes, and a lifetime of support and encouragement,” said Brena Slater, president and CEO of Safe Children Coalition. “We are grateful to the Junior League of Sarasota for helping our organization to provide support and guidance for area teens in the child-welfare system so that they, too, have the opportunity for a healthy and happy future.”
The new program will be offered through sessions held twice-monthly for 11 months; SCC expects at least 25 youths to attend each session, totaling up to 275 participants in the coming program year. Youths who participate are expected to: have increased self-esteem; learn self-care – including how to eat healthy, take part in physical activity and develop coping mechanisms; know how to cook basic meals; learn basic financial literacy; and develop better decision-making skills, particularly regarding risk-taking.
For more on Safe Children Coalition and its programs to support positive outcomes for at-risk children, visit sccfl.org.
About Safe Children Coalition, Inc.
Safe Children Coalition, Inc. (SCC) serves as the lead agency for community-based care for Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties. SCC is a collaboration between local community agencies who provide services to children and families in need. SCC is committed to protecting children, strengthening families, and building community. The core functions provided by SCC include child welfare case management, foster care, adoption, independent living, prevention, diversion, quality management, and support services. Visit sccfl.org or call 941-371-4799.