”Foster kids are our kids, and when we take them under our care, we in a sense become their parents,” said DHHS director Phillip R. Crandall. “We need to make sure they have secure housing, solid educational or job training opportunities and nutritious food to eat, just like any parent would do for their children. These youth should not be penalized because we have taken over their care.”
DHHS will receive $360,000 per year to develop a community wide plan to enhance services and advocate for young people ages 14 to 17 who are currently in foster care, youth who have aged out of the foster care system and possess risk factors for homelessness and young adults who have had past involvement in foster care and are homeless.
”Youth within these targeted age groups have fewer positive outcomes, including more school changes, failure to finish high school and a risk of cycling in and out of homelessness,” said Shelley Nilsen, deputy director of DHHS’ Children & Family Services.
”The ultimate goal of this project is to ensure youth leaving foster care have the services, housing and supports to make a successful transition into permanency,” Nilsen said.
Over the next few years, DHHS will work with community-based organizations, school districts, foster parents, transition age youth outreach agencies, child welfare social workers and youth shelter providers to assess what programs are currently in place to assist these at-risk youth and also to work toward improving services for the county’s current and former foster youth who are either homeless or currently on the verge of homelessness by securing stable housing, creating permanent connections, improving their social and emotional well-being, and broadening education and employment resources.
Approximately 25 percent of Humboldt County’s adult homeless population has been in the foster care system at some point in their lives, according to the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition’s 2011 Point-in-Time Count of the county’s homeless population.
Currently, there are approximately 250 children in foster care in Humboldt County.