Patchworked Lives Sonoma County’s Emancipating Dependents Prepared for Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation October 25, 2007 Prepared by Nick Honey, MSW, Director, Division of Family, Youth and Children Marla Stuart, MSW, Director, Division of Planning, Research and EvaluationMeg Easter-Dawson, MSW, Program Manager, Valley of the Moon Volunteer and Community Programs Quotes by Sonoma County emancipating foster youth and used with permission. All photos are stock.
“We should dream of and plan for a dayOutline when fewer children require foster care. Definition But until that day comes, we have a moral responsibility to prepare young people leaving foster care to become Pieces (Data) Big Picture whole adults who can fulfill their Sonoma County Profile potential and build bright and promising Pattern (Services) future.” President Jimmy Carter Mandates Service Categories Sonoma County Services Evidence Based Practice Gaps
DefinitionIn this context, an emancipating dependent IS …• A youth who is reaching 18 years old,• A dependent of the court as a result of abuse or neglect,• And currently in a non-permanent out-of-home placement.• This may be referred to as “aging out of the foster care system.”In this context, an emancipating dependent IS NOT …• a youth who is at least 16 years old,• successfully living independently (for instance, married),• and voluntarily petitioning the court for independence from his/her parent/guardian and to be legally considered an adult.More …• At age 18, child welfare payments to the out-of-home placement cease, Medi-Cal ceases, and the youth is no longer managed by a child welfare case worker. The youth may independently apply for assistance.• The youth is considered independent and has a right and obligation to make life decisions and function as a self-supporting adult in society.• A youth who is attending an education program leading to a high school diploma or GED and who is expected to complete the program before his/her 19th birthday, can remain eligible for foster placement until age 19.• A youth is eligible to receive county provided independent living skills services until the age of 21.
Big Picture: USA500,000 children and youth in foster care220,000 (4%) emancipate each year2EDUCATION• 50% complete high school3 - 47% have received special education, 37% have repeated a grade, 67% have been suspended from school6 - Median reading level is 7th grade6 - 15% take the necessary course to gain college admission3• 70% want to attend college3• 10% go on to college3• 2% graduate from college3• On average, college graduates earn $27,000 more per year than high school drop outs and pay on average $9,700 more in federal and state taxes.7SELF SUFFICIENCY• For the general population, average age of self-sufficiency is 26 and average financial assistance from parents from 18 to 26 is $44,50010• For emancipating foster youth, financial assistance from the state is $2,225• 40% of people living in homeless shelters are former foster youth.3• Annual cost to house an emancipated youth = $20,000 - $25,000. Annual cost to incarcerate = $55,000-$115,000. Annual cost to support a homeless adult = $54,996CHALLENGES• 55% have had legal involvement6• Less than 50% would ask the foster care agency for help after emancipation6
Big Picture: California100,000 children and youth in foster care24,300 (11%) emancipate each year1EDUCATION• 46% have not completed high school3• 20% who have completed high school pursue postsecondary education (compared to 60% of all high school graduates)3• Of college attendees, less than 3% graduate (compared to 24% of the general population)3SELF SUFFICIENCY• 65% are homeless at emancipation2 and 60% have been homeless at least one night since emancipation10• 75% started with less than $2503• 75% didn’t have dishes and utensils3• 25% report no income within one year of emancipation1• Average annual earnings for those working one year later is $6,2351
Big Picture: Sonoma County565 children and youth currently in foster care65 (12%) will emancipate in 2007Of the 239 dismissed dependency cases in 2006 …• Reunified 98 (41%)• Adopted 58 (24%)• Guardianship 36 (15%)• Emancipated 40 (17%)• Runaway 4 (2%)• Incarcerated 3 (1%) “I want to be a member of a family where love is strong and reliable.”
Sonoma County ProfileIn 2007, in Sonoma County … 130 youth, ages 16-19, live in a non-permanent out-of-home placement as dependents of the court. Typically, an emancipating youth is … Female 17 years old White English speaking was removed from her home for caretaker absence or incapacity and has experienced 5 lifetime placements beginning at age 11
Sonoma County Profile “It is unwise to be didactic because the facts are very illusive. I now realize that not very pattern has a name, that there is no correct name for any design, and that some of the names we take for granted actually have relatively short histories.” Barbara Brackman, Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt PatternsOf course, every youth is different… White Native American Hispanic African American BY GENDER Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female Male 82 5 29 14Number of Youth 85 45 52 30 2 3 23 6 8 6Average Age at 11.3 14.6 10.9 10.9First Placement 11.5 11.0 11.5 10.9 15.5 14.0 11.4 9.2 10.4 11.7Average Number 5.2 2.4 5.1 4.9 of Placements 5.1 5.0 5.1 5.4 2.5 2.3 5.3 4.7 5.1 4.5 Most Common English English English English English Primary Language English English English English Spanish English English English English English
Sonoma County ProfileSonoma County dependents nearing emancipation …• 89% are on track for high school diploma or GED• 86% have an emancipation plan• 58% have stayed at Valley of the Moon Children’s Home• 24% have a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)• 13% struggle with substance use challenges• 7% are a parent• 4% have been involved with Juvenile JusticeReasons for Removal from Home Types of PlacementsCaretaker absence or incapacity 35% Foster home 92%General neglect 28% Shelter 58%Physical abuse 21% Relative 46%Sexual abuse 14% Group home 46%Child’s disability 8% Guardian 17%Emotional Abuse 6%Severe abuse or neglect 5%Other 7%
Mandates 1971: 26th Amendment to the Constitution (Lowered the “age of majority” from 21 to 18.) 1999: John Chafee Foster Care Independence Act (Doubled federal funding for Independent Living Skills Programs and allowed states to extend foster care services and Medicaid to age 21.) California’s Supportive Transitional Emancipation Program for foster youth (California’s regulations for implementing ILSP. Republished annually.) 2002: Chafee Educational Training Vouchers (Provides former foster youth in college up to $5000 per academic year.) 2007: AB 1331 (Requires counties to screen foster youth between the age of 16 ½ and 17 ½ to identify those with disabilities and to apply for SSI.)
Service Categories Mentor (an interested, caring, connected adult role model, could be a relative, service provider, educator, or any other adult in the youth’s life) Independent Living Skills (money management, driving and purchasing a car, public transportation, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, decision making, acquiring household items) Housing (healthy house rules, landlord/tenant/roommate relationships, deposit/rent assistance, being a good neighbor, furnishings) Case Management (accessing community resources including food assistance, clothing, applying for entitlement programs, securing legal documents) Education (diploma or GED, applying for and managing college financial aid, entrance exams, and applications) Employment (job, training, job applications, shopping and dressing for interviews, transportation to interviews) Health and Mental Health (post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, depression, pregnancy, dental, medical) “I am thankful that there are some people in this world that have the need to help unfortunate children get back onto the path in which they had lost track.” lost
Sonoma County Services Program Category Independent Living Skills Health and Mental Health Case Management Employment Education Housing MentorProgram NameSonoma County Independent Life Skills Program (ILSP) X X X X X X X No program serves every youth …Sonoma County Life Long Connections XSonoma County Work Investment Act (WIA) X X XSonoma County Transitional Age Youth (TAY) X X X XSonoma County Teen Parent Connections X X XSonoma County Regional Occupational Program X XSanta Rosa Junior College Independent Living Program X X XTamayo House X X XTransitional Housing Placement Program (THPP) X XTransitional Housing Program Plus (THP+) X XCourt Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) X X X X X X XYouthBuild of the Community Action Partnership X XSonoma County Medical Alliance Foundation Give-a-Gift X
Best Practices Extend foster care Connection to family, peers, caring adults Completion of education Safe and stable housing Employment Healthcare Independent Living Skills
Sonoma County Needs Education Housing Employment Mentors
“It was difficult but I am very determined to succeed in life.” “I am looking forward to my future.” “I am a strong person whom is motivated to achieve.”
Thank You Alicia Tuso, Sonoma County Independent Living Services Program Annette Walker, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Administration Bob Harper, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Division of Family, Youth and Children Casey McChesney, Community Action Partnership YouthBuild Donna Irizary, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Division of Family, Youth and Children Fred Jones, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Division of Family, Youth and Children Gigi McDonald, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Administration Jeanne Oliver, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Division of Family, Youth and Children Karen Sellite, Sonoma County Transitional Age Youth Kathleen Alves, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Division of Family, Youth and Children Katie Greaves, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Division of Family, Youth and Children Kay Delaney, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Division of Family, Youth and Children Laura Colgate, Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation Lindsey Mazur, Give-A-Gift Program, Sonoma County Medical Alliance Foundation Lisa Rohe, THPP and THP+, TLC Children and Family Services Michael Fraga, Valley of the Moon Children’s Foundation Mignon Evans, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Division of Family, Youth and Children Millie Gilson, Sonoma County CASA Pat Jacobs, Sonoma County Teen Parent Connection Patricia Andrews, Sonoma County Employment & Training Roy Freborg, Sonoma County Human Services Department, Division of Family, Youth and Children Stephanie Hager, Santa Rosa Junior College Stephen Jackson, Regional Occupational Preparedness, Sonoma County Office of Education Tom Bieri, Tamayo House Tom Joynt, Sonoma County Office of Education And, to our community quilters for their inspiring quilts.