Fresno County Department of Children and Family Services emancipates twenty and thirty eighteen-year-old foster children each month. These children face many challenges as they work through a transition into the adult, working world. Children in a foster care setting have not had the stability needed for them to develop the life skills necessary to adjust to life on their own. Many of the emancipated youth have either not graduated from high school, nor hold a G.E.D. certificate. In addition, they do not have adequate basic living skills.. The youths typically do not have employment, nor have they built a history during their teen years of successful part time entry level jobs.
The housing experiences of these children, as they have moves from home to home, have not taught them the basic skills needed to keep a home, or apartment. These young adults also lack money management skills, and the knowledge of how to tap into community resources. While the foster care system seeks to provided for the material and physical needs of these children, their personal growth in areas such as emotional development, educational progress, and a sense of their own responsibility for their lives has not receivd the same attention. These qualities, and inner developmental accomplishments require that the teens be connected to parents, peers, mentors, or other individuals that can show genuine interest in these children. It is through the interest, and investment into these children by respected authority figures that these changes can occur, and these children will be more able to make the adjustment into adult life.
The Fresno County foster care system, and related agencies provide many programs which can aid in this transitional, and maturation process, but many of the children served by the system do not take advantage of these additional programs. The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the alternatives which are available, and develop strategies that will assist the youths to become infolved in them. Them the system will make positive progress toward preparing more of the youth to live on their own when the time of emancipation arrives.
This chapter summarizes the results obtained from the data collection plan as described in Chapter Four. From familiarity with the agencies, services, and programs available, a survey was written to test the youth's knowledge of these programs. Also tested was their desire to be involved in the various programs. In the case of programs with which the children were, but were not attending, an attempt was made to investigate what kept the youth's from participating, and to investigate under what circumstances they may be more interested in making these programs a priority in their lives.
The survey was taken at a Foster Parent Association Meeting. For each of the three stated objectives, three subsequent hypotheses were also formulated and evaluated through the data collected. A twelve question survey was written and hand delivered to teenaged foster children. Eleven of the questions pertain to this thesis.
The following is a copy of the questionnaire used in this study.
Foster Child Survey
Gender: Male or Female
The following questions are rated on a scale one to four. Please circle your selection as follows:
As a teenager facing emancipation from the foster care system, I feel I have the skills to live on my own successfully.
As a teenage in the system, I had the support and services offered to me by my social worker that I needed to prepare myself for my future.
My foster parent provided the support and training of basic living skills that I needed to live on my own, including Independent Living Skills Classes.
I participated in the Independent Living Skills Program classes and found them to be interesting and informative.
I am aware of the importance of high school graduation as it relates to being successful in finding suitable employment after emancipation.
The importance of high school graduation was stressed to me by my foster parent and social worker.
My family supported me in my decision to graduate from high school.
I feel my biggest obstacle in attending school was a lack of self-esteem.
I feel my biggest obstacle in attending school was a lack of remedial skills such as reading, writing and math.
I feel the stigma or label of being in foster care affected my performance in school.
I feel the biggest obstacle I had to overcome to be successful in school was me.
I believe my foster parent cares about me as a person and wants me to be successful after leave their care.
I believe my social worker cares about me as a person and wants me to be successful after emancipation from the system.
My foster parent and social worker communicated well with each other to ensure I received the services I needed to be successful after emancipation.
I know what I am going to do after emancipation in terms of employment.
I wish I had a peer mentor or adult mentor from the time I entered my teen years in foster care.
I would join California Youth Connection, a foster advocacy group, to interact with other foster youth if there was a local chapter.
I am capable of filing out a job application and know how to present myself at an interview.
After emancipation, I wish there was some financial support to assist with me with finding adequate housing.
As a teenager preparing to emancipate and live on my own is frightening.
I was taught and encouraged by my support group how to manage money.
I feel I can make a budget and stick to it.
I know how to go shopping for clothes and food on a budget.
I can write healthy/nutritious meals and prepare them for myself.
I have learned how to manage my anger about being in the foster system.
I would be willing to mentor other foster youth after emancipation.
I would like to attend college or research the military before I am emancipated.
I know where to go in the community to get the resources I need that are available to me after emancipation.
I intend to live with relatives after foster care.
I have plans to move in with roommates after emancipation.
I know how to clean the house and do my laundry.
I know where to shop for furniture and things for the house that my budget can afford.
I am aware of the free tutoring opportunities that are available to me feel uncomfortable when my peers know I am in need of tutoring would participate in tutoring sessions only if they were in my home.
I wish I had a mentor from the time I was a teenager in foster care.
I have the motivation to find a job.
I have the self-confidence needed to search for a job.
I am aware of the E.O.C. Teen Connection Program.
I took advantage of the ILSP training classes offered to me.
I would attend ILSP classes if they were on a different day.
I would be interested in moving into a transitional housing program.
As a foster child facing emancipation I am frightened and need more basic living skills training.
A need financial assistance from the department after emancipation from the system and would participate in an aftercare program.
Objectives and Hypotheses
Objective One: To increase participation in Tutoring and Mentoring Programs by foster youth by twenty percent as measured by statistical information in one year after implementation of the proposed alternative.
Hypothesis 1.1. An additional twenty percent of teenaged foster children would participate in tutoring sessions if offered in their home rather than at school. One survey question asked if the teenagers were aware that free tutoring opportunities were available to them. Of the thirty foster children who were surveyed, all were aware of the free tutoring programs. Another survey question asked the youths if they would participate if the tutoring program was offered in their home rather than the current locations. One hundred percent of the youth surveyed answered yes to this question. The data supported the hypothesis that it is possible to increase the level of participation in the tutoring programs through the recommended methods.
Hypothesis 1.2. Thirty percent of teenaged foster youth would agree to participate in a mentoring program that provides incentives for participation. The survey question asked the teenagers if they wished they had a mentor during their teenage years in foster care. Of the thirty youth surveyed, one hundred percent indicated a desire for a mentoring relationship. Several of the youth were unaware of the role of a mentor, and needed clarification before responding to the question. The data supported the hypothesis.
Forty percent of teenaged foster youth would desire to participate in a mentoring program that offered career guidance and program certification. This survey question was included in the question used in the above hypothesis. Of…