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Hillsides Youth Moving On (YMO) program has collaborated with four local agencies to develop a personalized workplace education curriculum that is currently being tested as a pilot program for youth transitioning from foster care to adulthood. The alliance, the Transition- Aged Youth Collaborative, worked for three years to formalize and standardize how such youth are trained for success in the work force.
Some 60 youth will use the curriculum over the course of three – four months. The results will be monitored and analyzed, with goal of finalizing the curriculum and making it available to the general public by the summer of 2015, said Thomas Lee, Hillsides division director of transition-aged youth services.
The curriculum is the result of the tremendous need for workplace development for youth exiting the foster care system, said Lee. “The majority falls between the cracks and ends up either homeless or in a life of poverty without a viable job or career. This curriculum aims to reach this segment of the youth population in an innovative way that lets us be responsive to the individual needs of each youth.”
The four other agencies in the Transition-Aged Youth Collaborative are St. Anne’s, Hathaway-Sycamores, Pacific Clinics, and Los Angeles Youth Clinic. The five agencies have been working in partnership with Lauren B. Gates, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City. The Collaborative got a big boost recently when, under the leadership of St. Anne’s, it received a $1.5 grant over three years from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to implement the curriculum.
The curriculum is comprised of a workbook and a multi-media component that teaches youth needed skills to obtain and retain jobs. “It will also allow youth to pinpoint what sort of jobs they will excel in, and give them guidance on how to get promotions, obtain higher wages, and build careers for themselves,” said Lee.
The Collaborative will use the Hilton Foundation funds to hire a consultant who will serve as a curriculum coach to make sure the five agencies are consistently trained to teach the content. The consultant will also design different ways to teach the curriculum according to the varying education levels of the youth. In addition, the grant will fund a data management software program that will track the outcome of the youth and each agency.
“Hillsides YMO program is continually staying on the cutting edge to support transition-aged youth, and this new workplace curriculum is yet another example,” said Joseph M. Costa, Hillsides chief executive officer. “We look forward to a continued partnership with the other local agencies in helping youth overcome difficult childhoods and meet adulthood with success.”
Youth Moving On provides youth formerly in foster care and probation, ages 16 – 24, with a continuum of support services to empower them to find lasting independence and a lifetime of personal fulfillment. Hillsides is a premier provider of behavioral and educational services dedicated to improving the overall well-being and functioning of vulnerable children, youth, and their families. For more information, please visit www.hillsides.org and www.youthmovingon.org.