Fostering Youth Independence launches new programs

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News release 

Local nonprofit Fostering Youth Independence has begun the new year with the introduction of three new programs designed to give local foster youth financial skills, a creative outlet to express their challenging experiences and, for those youth moving into a new place, the necessary household goods and study tools. 

“Local foster youth who are transitioning to adulthood from the L.A. County foster care system haven’t had the traditional support of a loving family to guide them as they’ve grown up and, indeed, have experienced just the opposite,” Carolyn Olsen, FYI’s executive director and co-founder, said in a news release. “These vulnerable youth have experienced trauma and challenges no young person should have to endure, and it’s our mission to provide resources and support to equip them to complete a post-secondary education and become independent, successful adults.” 

Olsen said FYI is excited to introduce three new programs to strengthen the “community of care” for the 76 local youth the organization currently serves. The FYI news release provided the following summaries of the new programs: 

  • ReNew – Foster youth have typically experienced past traumas and difficulties that are challenging to overcome. A new monthly session will equip youth to break the cycle of woundedness from unhealthy relationships. Facilitated by Evelia Scanlon, a certified domestic violence advocate, parent educator and life coach, the youth will be led to interpret, express, and resolve past experiences to help them find success and improve their well-being.   
  • Money Matters – Formerly a financial literacy class, this program has been retooled to provide individualized financial counseling and education. To help foster youth with money management and personal finance, crucial skills that most are lacking, new 30-minute one-on-one conversations with a finance professional will guide youth on debt, budgeting, planning, jobs, and income. The sessions will be offered monthly. 
  • Welcome Home – Typically foster youth moving into a new place arrive with little to no possessions. With funding from the city of Santa Clarita’s Community Services and Arts Program, this new initiative will provide select foster youth with household goods, home furnishings and study tools. Each youth will be accompanied by his or her Ally on a shopping trip to purchase furnishings and household items like comforters, pillows, lamps, and wall art, plus study tools like calculators and school supplies. 

“These programs are all about empowering and motivating our youth, and providing them with skills and environments to be able to transition to adulthood and help break the cycle of poverty and abuse,” Olsen added.  

FYI currently serves 76 transition-age (16-25 years) foster youth in the Santa Clarita Valley and has supported 165 local youth since its inception in 2017. It assigns each youth an adult volunteer Ally and a coordinator to help them set and achieve goals in areas such as education, employment, housing, finances, health, transportation, assistance with college and trade school applications, enrollment and class registration, and referrals to resources for food, housing, health, mental health and employment.   

It also provides emergency financial assistance when an unexpected expense such as a car repair threatens to derail a youth’s educational plans. FYI offers The Study Place for learning support and tutoring, a Ready, Set, Drive! Program to assist youth in obtaining their driver’s license, hosts events throughout the year where the youth can connect with other youth and Allies to create a community of support, and partners with College of the Canyons for referrals and counseling. It also provides school supplies and holiday gifts. 

For more information, go to www.fyifosteryouth.org

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