Up to 25,000 young adults age out of the foster care system each year with no economic or
By age 24, up to 30% of foster care alumni have been homeless for at least one night since
exiting foster care.
In Illinois, only 50% of youth who have aged out of the foster care system are employed at the- APHSA University of Chicago Chapin Hall National Youth in Transition Database Initiative, Amy Dworsky, 2009
age of 24.
UCAN's Alumni Services Program (ASP) is an innovative, voluntary program that offers additional support to young adults who have emancipated from the child welfare system. ASP provides short-term case management services utilizing a team of professionals that includes a case manager, a housing coordinator, an employment specialist, and an emancipation specialist. ASP assists young adults in securing safe and affordable housing, preparing for and gaining stable employment, accessing dependable child care, addressing emotional issues through counseling, support and referrals for substance abuse treatment, and learning life skills. Importantly, a key component of the program is teaching young adults how to identify and access community resources independently in the future.
The Alumni Services Program was created to assist alumni of the child welfare system seeking assistance after encountering life-altering events or emergency situations. Today, when someone is in need of aid, UCAN personnel refer the young adult to the Alumni Services Program. Young adults can also contact the Alumni Services Program Coordinator directly to express interest in joining the program.
Once a young adult completes intake, he/she works together with the ASP Coordinator to create a service plan that addresses all of his/her needs. Young adults are highly encouraged to be active participants in this process and throughout their time in the program. During this time, case workers see clients face to face twice a month and touch base on the phone weekly. This client-centered approach not only enhances a youth's experience with the program, but also inspires the young adult to take responsibility and accountability for their success.
ASP services include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Housing assistance
- Employment Assistance
- Educational Assistance
- Therapeutic referrals (individual, couple, and family)
- Like skills education
- Parenting skills education
- Referrals to community resources
Jordan was about to turn eighteen when she entered UCAN's Independent Living Arrangements program (ILA). She had previously lived in a Residential group home and was able to move out and live with her aunt for a couple years before becoming pregnant and getting kicked out of her aunt's house. Upon entering UCAN's ILA program, Jordan was rebellious; she didn't want to listen to the program's rules and had dropped out of school. Jordan says, "UCAN made sure that I got my G.E.D.. They also helped me keep custody of my little girl, helped me get through cosmetology school and ensured I had everything that I needed to be a successful parent and adult."
Jordan's caseworker urged her to think of continuing her education, and at the time of emancipation Jordan was completing two Associate's degrees in Science and Criminal Justice at Moraine Valley College. Jordan decided that she wanted to work with youth who had had similar experiences to her, so she began continuing her education towards a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and Communication Studies. As graduation neared, Jordan became nervous about her student loans and her inability to find a full time job to begin after graduation. At the age of 29, it had been six years since Jordan left UCAN's ILA program, yet she reached out to her former case worker for help.
After connecting with Alumni Services, Jordan was able to successfully graduate. She says, "I felt safe again; I was able to better organize my job search and to get all of my financial obligations in order. I felt confident in myself and my abilities." Much to Jordan's surprise, she was able to find a job working right here at UCAN's Therapeutic Youth Home as a Behavioral Specialist. "I know now that my time spent at UCAN was not in vain," says Jordan. "I am so happy to have a purpose and to be back here at UCAN working with youth in the foster care system." Jordan enjoys helping UCAN's Residential youth cope with their feelings. "I want to be able to make a difference with these kids," says Jordan. "The ASP staff is united in working together to help each and every young adult who enters the program - they are focused on creating plans for each client and making sure that the clients are able to complete their goals. I appreciate being employed by this organization and am building from my experience as a former client when working with youth today."
Today, Jordan lives with her two children in Evergreen Park and currently works at UCAN as an ILO/TLP Case Manager, continuing her dream of helping others. She previously worked at UCAN's Therapeutic Youth Home and is currently obtaining her Master's Degree in Psychology from Lewis University.
For more information, please contact Emily Baron at 312-738-5963 or firstname.lastname@example.org Para comunicarse con alguien en Español, favor de llamar a Francisco Monzon al numero 708-201-3028.
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