SARASOTA, FL – For older youths about to transition from the state care system to independent living, there are numerous challenges to overcome. Young people aging out of foster care often lack stable connections with family, friends and the community to help them grow into healthy, productive adults. They are also much more likely to have faced disruptive and traumatic experiences, including home and school instability, mental and physical health issues, and homelessness.
To help inform the system of care through a youth-adult partnership model, child welfare agency Safe Children Coalition (SCC) had, for years, convened a Youth Advisory Council to ensure young voices were heard. Due to Covid and associated loss of staff and youth leadership resources, the council stopped meeting two years ago. However, to support efforts to regroup and reinvigorate this body, the Selfless Love Foundation has awarded a micro-grant of $2,500 to SCC.
These funds will be used to develop care packages for children coming into foster care, explore recommended changes on Independent Living forms so they are more youth friendly, develop a youth-friendly resource guide, and defray travel costs for events. The funds will also assist in growing the Youth Advocacy Council and improving the council’s participation in the Selfless Love Foundation’s One Voice Impact (OVI). The group also hopes to coordinate holiday events and design a council T-shirt.
One Voice IMPACT (OVI) is a youth engagement initiative, powered by Selfless Love Foundation, that provides current and former foster youth opportunities to develop skills for leadership and life, advocate for changes to policy, and join a network of youth leaders across the State of Florida to improve the system of care. Together, Selfless Love Foundation’s network of young people and child welfare system professionals are giving youth voices center stage to raise awareness about the value of youth participation in decisions that impact their future.
“The experience of transitioning from the foster care system to independent living can be extremely challenging for many young adults,” said Brena Slater, president and CEO of Safe Children Coalition. “By convening potential youth leaders for the Youth Advocacy Council, we not only improve outcomes for those participants but also give a strong voice for young people in the state care system to bolster resources and better the experience of children in our care.”
For more information, 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.