Youth who grow up in the foster care system face tremendous challenges as they transition to adulthood. They have all of the same challenges other youth face, plus the additional burdens that are unique to them: Suffering the trauma of being separated from family and the expectation of complete independence at the age of 18 or 20.
Our publicly funded foster care system is strained to support these youth and rightly focuses on housing, safety, medical care and education. There are very few public dollars focused on preparing foster youth for the workforce. Yet, who needs to be prepared more than this group of emancipating minors who lack a family support system?
TeenForce, a non-profit social enterprise, is addressing this challenge by marshaling the resources of the private sector and other non-profits to generate age and skill appropriate jobs for current and former foster youth ages 15 – 24. As a founding member of the Foster Youth Employment Coalition, TeenForce helped launch a partnership with the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce with a goal of generating 100 jobs for foster youth in 2013.
After filling 60 of the jobs during the first five months of the year, the drive to 100 took a big leap forward last week with a Hiring Fair at the Chamber office. Seven youth were offered jobs on the spot and another 25 were invited back for second interviews, which will include typical hiring steps such as background checks and drug screening.
These opportunities were provided by a wide range of employers including Orchard Supply Hardware, M. E. Fox & Co., Planet Orange, El Camino Hospital, Home Depot, Goodwill of Silicon Valley, RFI Security and Princeton Capital.
The event was highlighted by two youth speakers. Mauro is a state licensed termite inspector working full-time with Planet Orange. Not bad for 18 and a half years old! And, Antaeus, who works at Princeton Capital gave a stirring speech citing the hope and opportunity that was palpable in the room.
The Intero Foundation was pleased to present TeenForce with a $7,500 check to support their expansion into Morgan Hill and Gilroy. The South County is home to a number of disadvantaged youth and the TeenForce services will be well received.
The beauty of these initiatives is that they are working to solve serious social problems in the normal course of business and without government funding. Foster youth are ready and motivated to become valuable members of your workforce. With the support of TeenForce and its FYEC partners, these youth can be matched to appropriate job in a “win-win” scenario. Please contact TeenForce to see how your business can make foster youth hiring a portion of its workforce development strategy. www.teenforce.org