Written by Samantha Bosio
Published on March 10, 2010
Filed under City News
Yolo County relieves foster youth’s transition to independence
Most teenagers anxiously await the day they turn 18, but not every young adult shares this same excitement. For foster youth, becoming a legal adult carries new responsibilities to lead an independent life.
In an effort to aid in the transition from out-of-home residencies to independent living, the Transitional Housing Placement Plus (THP-Plus) program helps emancipated foster children in 52 counties. The THP-Plus program offers affordable housing, furniture, assistance with enrollment in school and help finding a job to former foster children ages 18 to 24.
“It is the only program in the state that works to address homelessness in former foster youth,” said Amy Lemley, policy director for the John Burton Foundation. “I think it’s very scary for these teens. You can imagine the kind of panic and frustration that this creates for them. We need to fulfill our commitment to these young people the way a parent would support their child in this transition.”
The California Department of Social Services, John Burton Foundation and the Corporation for Supportive Housing established the statewide project in 2001. Yolo County implemented the THP-Plus program in 2008, providing affordable housing for foster youth in a subsidized, communal home in the city of Davis.
Youth in the 24-month program are given housing, furniture, food allotment, counseling, assistance with earning their GED if needed, a $50 monthly stipend and a trust account to help them save money for life after the program.
“Approximately 15 youth emancipate out of foster care in Yolo County each year,” said Nancy O’Hara, assistant director of Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services in an e-mail interview. “Most have no where to live and no means of support at the time they are emancipated. The youth seem receptive and appreciative [of the THP-Plus].”
On July 1, however, the benefits of the program may be in danger if the state decreases its $172,000 allocation for Yolo County’s THP-Plus due to the California budget crisis.
“What little security they have had has been undermined by the recession,” Lemley said. “When we need it [the THP-Plus] most we see a proposal to eliminate it. As counties are more seriously affected by the recession, we see a kind of trickle down effect where counties have to decide what they do or do not want to do. It’s a tough decision for everyone.”
According to a 2002 study by the California Department of Social Services, every year in California over 4,200 young adults are dismissed from foster care, and two out of three end up homeless. Since its formation, the THP-Plus has been relatively successful – 85 percent of its participants retain housing and employment for at least one year after completing the program.
To help Yolo County’s local foster care, Soroptimist International of Davis held its annual poker tournament on March 6 at the Veterans’ Memorial Center.
“This type of issue isn’t on everyone’s radar,” said Lea Roseberg, president of Soroptimist International of Davis. “We wanted to bring it forth a little bit. I hope that these young adults know that there is a group out there that is supportive of their futures and that we care. Most of us have a mom or dad to help us get through college and pay for rent, but hopefully we can come in and help that Yolo County agency.”
About 80 percent of the profits collected were donated to the local housing program, the group’s primary project for the next couple years. Soroptimist will distribute the rest of the proceeds amongst other community projects.
“Each year, thousands of 18-year-olds find themselves totally on their own because they have aged out of the foster care system,” says Lea Rosenberg, a member of Soroptimist International of Davis.
“Suddenly, they must figure out how to live on their own, work out transportation issues, and find a job or enter college without the help of a trusted adult adviser. So, our club wants to make sure that the youth who age out of the foster care system in Yolo County know that there are adults who care about them and want to help them become self-sufficient.”
Soroptimists invite the public to help out by attending their annual “Spirit of the West” fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 25, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St. All proceeds raised through this annual event are used to support and assist young adults who age out of foster care.
The Davis Rebekah Lodge invites the public to its Second Rebekah Lodge Crab Feed to be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall, 415 Second St., Davis. The crab feed is a charitable fundraiser, open to the general public.
Only 160 tickets were printed for the crab feed, and less than 30 tickets remain. Tickets are only sold at the Avid Reader Active bookstore on Second Street. It is not anticipated that any tickets will remain to be sold at the door.
Tickets are $40 per person and participants will get lots of fresh cracked crab, pasta, salad, bread and drawn butter. The Rebekah Crab Feed also features a silent auction and a full no-host bar.
A raffle will also be conducted featuring a 24-bottle wine locker, including 24 bottles of fine wine.
All proceeds from the Rebekah Lodge Crab Feed will be used for the benefit of at-risk and foster youth in the Yolo County community.
Want to whisper your Christmas wishes in Santa’s ear early this holiday season? Then be sure to buy tickets for Breakfast with Santa, which go on sale Monday.
This year’s event, which features three seatings, will take place Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St. in downtown Davis.
Tickets are $8 per person and must be purchased in advance, at The Avid Reader, 617 Second St. in downtown Davis, and Common Grounds, 2171 Cowell Blvd. in South Davis. Seatings are at 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m.
“Only 120 tickets are available for each seating and they go really fast,” said event co-chair Barbara Geisler. In 2010, tickets sold out in 10 days.
Breakfast with Santa includes pancakes, sausage, orange slices and cinna-bread, a goodie bag for each child and an opportunity to take a photo with Santa.
Parents are encouraged to bring their own cameras to record their child’s moment with Santa and his elves.
The event is presented by the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge and Davis Rebekah Lodge, with food donations from the Davis Food Co-op, Woodstock’s Pizza, Kona Coast Food Products and Puroast Low Acid Coffee.
“The 175 members of the Davis Odd Fellows Lodge look forward to Breakfast with Santa every year because it brings so much joy and pleasure to the children and families who participate,” said Dave Reed, Noble Grand of the lodge.
Proceeds from the event will support emancipated foster youths as they transition to adulthood and Progress Ranch, a group home for foster boys in Davis.