San Francisco-based Tipping Point Community has announced a five-year, $30 million initiative focused on helping foster youth in the Bay Area navigate the transition to adulthood.
With the aim of providing a robust safety net and a path out of poverty for current and former foster youth between the ages of 14 and 24, the Better Futures for Foster Youth initiative will work to help participants secure stable housing, pursue and persist in higher education, and access the supports and services they need. To that end, the program will pursue a three-pronged strategy — promoting and facilitating systems change through support for effective policy and advocacy organizations; fostering collaboration, data sharing, and coordinated resource allocation; and supporting direct service interventions that increase individual's educational attainment, employment prospects and wages, housing stability, and health services utilization.
Tipping Point's investments to date include grants to John Burton Advocates for Youth, in support of policy advocacy efforts aimed at improving education, housing, and health outcomes for foster youth; the National Center for Youth Law, which will use the funds to provide education support services; On the Move, in support of a peer-led outreach and advocacy model that locates and engages homeless foster youth who are disconnected from care and support services; Pivotal, which will use the funds to scale its education and employment services; and the University of Chicago's School of Social Administration, which will provide data analysis and reporting on foster youth outcomes in the five counties served by the initiative.
While states often are able to extend benefits to youth between the ages of 18 and 21 who choose to extend foster care, even those youth are cut off from mental health care, Social Security income, work support and resources, educational support, and food assistance (at age 21), housing assistance (at age 24), and healthcare coverage (at age 26). Nationally, only 7 percent of foster youth earn a college degree, and at the age of 26 half are unemployed, one in three have experienced homelessness, and, if they are female, nearly four in five have had a pregnancy.
"After twenty-one, they are on their own," Tipping Point president Sam Cobbs told the Mercury News. "But what we are seeing is if young people are offered support services, they can make large gains....This initiative is to help young people begin to thrive, not just survive."
(Photo credit: John Burton Advocates for Youth)