AmeriCorps Week, a celebration of the impactful work the service opportunity program has accomplished since its inception 25 years ago, is now underway and is slated to run through March 17, 2019.
AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that oversees volunteering, service, and civic engagement. CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts.
Why is AmeriCorps Week important to us?
AmeriCorps Week is a big deal to us this year. We are proud to announce that we are the newest CNCS grantee, and just this week signed off on a new program called TAY AmeriCorps.
One of our core concerns at iFoster is the fact that foster youth don’t receive the same opportunities that their non-fostered peers receive due to the inherent limitations of being raised in a system of care.
Because of these limitations, foster youth can really struggle when they reach adulthood and “age out” of the program, as we say. Unemployment and homelessness are common problems for too many of our young people.
The TAY AmeriCorps program is designed to be a stepping stone for transition-age foster youth (TAY), giving them a chance to gain the skills they need to find permanent employment — specifically in the public sector — once they age out of the foster care system and are on their own.
How are we accomplishing this?
We are using our CNCS grant to train and deploy 80 current and former foster youth as AmeriCorps service members. The members’ duty is to connect current transition-age foster youth to resources that will help set them up for success once they have aged out of the system.
They will serve at up to 45 host sites including high schools, colleges, and youth workforce centers throughout Los Angeles County and the Bay Area.
This initiative is huge. If it goes as well as expected, up to 6,000 transition-age foster youth will be connected to resources that will set them up for future success and change the trajectory of their career path for the better.
Currently, our prospective members are in the process of completing 30 hours of training in different cohorts over the course of several weeks.
What’s the next step?
On March 21, our members will take their final test by spending the day role-playing their position with social workers, iFoster partners and others, working to connect these volunteers with the same kind of resources that TAY would need.
Our trainees are not officially AmeriCorps members until their graduation and swearing-in ceremony on March 22, at the L.A. County Arboretum in Arcadia.
This ceremony is a celebration of the members’ commitment to a program that will change the lives of foster youth for the next 12 months. They will take the AmeriCorps pledge together, and receive certificates officiating their membership.
Bobby Cagle, Director of Child Welfare for LA County, is scheduled to speak at the event. We’re also in touch with several elected officials from the region who are expected to join our celebration. We are estimating that over 600 people will attend!
iFoster is launching this program in very close partnership with the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services because local officials see this initiative as a potential game-changer for the future of child welfare everywhere.
Although the TAY AmeriCorps program is currently localized to L.A. County and the Bay Area, we envision this model as the gateway to a nationwide movement that helps to successfully transition hundreds of thousands of foster youth to independence before they clock out of the system.