The Academy: A Program for Older Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care

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Vera Institute of Justice

 

Youths in the foster care system who reach adulthood without being reunited with their birth families or being adopted by another family are more prone to becoming homeless and incarcerated as adults, according to this new Vera Institute of Justice report.  The report explores the implementation of the Academy, a collaborative program created in New York in 2007 to address the problems of these youths who “age out” of the foster care system. 

Researchers have found that the Academy has been successful in bridging the gap in youth programming, especially because of its ability to engage youths who do not typically access traditional services.  In addition,  the Academy has been able to develop programming to help low-literacy youths prepare for the GEDs while simultaneously taking advantage of opportunities for paid internships. This programming allows foster care youths to be able to choose both work and school, rather than one or the other, according to the researchers.

The Academy provides customizable service plans for education, training and employment; social and recreational opportunities; and open eligibility and participation policies.

Researchers contend that the program should continue to maintain three key elements: an adaptable intake policy that is sensitive to the needs of these youth; a collaboration of education, employment and support services and the delivery of these services independent of the child welfare system.

The authors also outline various challenges and several ways that the Academy can strengthen and expand its pool of financial sources.

Free, 39 pages. http://www.vera.org/download?file=2995/Heckscher-Academy-report-final.pdf.