Title

Empowering Today's Foster Youth and Parents for Tomorrow's Future

First Presenter's Institution

University of Kentucky

Second Presenter's Institution

University of Kentucky

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Session 3 (Plimsoll)

Strand #1

Family & Community

Strand #2

Mental & Physical Health

Relevance

This proposal relates most specifically to Strand 1: Family and Community. We will focus on foster parent and relative caretaker engagement; foster and relative caretaker involvement in student achievement; effective communication; Parenting skills and support; adult-youth partnerships; Foster care; Community programs, partnerships, University partnerships; Faith-based initiatives; and Social service programs.

Brief Program Description

The purpose of this presentation is to share how Kentucky developed a program focusing on life skills for foster youth before they "age out of the system" to increase self-sufficiency and parenting skills for foster parents and relatives that are raising youth. Objectives include increased understanding and use of critical life skills for self-sufficiency by foster youth; increased understanding and use of critical parenting skills; and increased community partnerships among youth and family organizations in target communities.

Summary

The purpose of the program to be shared in this presentation is to provide a comprehensive life skills development program for foster youth and youth being raised by relatives to increase self-sufficiency by age 18. The program also employs a parenting program for foster parents and relatives who are raising children. Long term goals of this program include demonstrated application of critical life skills by target youth, demonstrated application of critical parenting skills by foster parents/guardians; and institutionalization of the program as a priority approach among those working with foster youth across the country. The program model utilized is the YMCA's Safe Place Program Model, which employs a multidisciplinary Positive Youth Development and Trauma-Informed approach that views youth in the context of the family and community and develops programming based on local needs and grounded in research. Primary curricula used in the program will be shared with participants so they can learn more about getting training for their state teams. The primary audience reached through this program is foster youth and youth living in relatives home who are age 12-17 before they "age of out of the system," potentially becoming homeless or unstably housed once they turn 18 years old. Parenting programs lasting 10 weeks each are also offered 3 times per year to engage foster parents and relatives raising children and to offer needed continuing education opportunities. Reunion and added dosage programming is then offered in the summer for graduates of the program in the form of family retreats/camps. The core groups of youth are the primary audience for evaluation purposes. The secondary audience of their families will then be reached through the 10-week sessions.

Participants will learn how to begin these programs in their home communities and learn about curricula and resources used. They will also learn strategies for getting parenting programs recognized or certified for continuing education credits for their home state, learn how to begin a youth life skills program for foster youth, and receive resource guides for running 3-day family retreats and for community web of support programs for youth.

Evidence

Kentucky has the highest rate in the nation of children being raised by relatives and a very high rate of homelessness for youth who have aged out of the foster care system. Opportunities for these youth to gain critical life skills help them become more self-sufficient, reducing the likelihood of homeless or unstable housing as adults. Sound, evidence-based parenting programs for the adults (relatives raising children and foster parents) then complements the life skills programming for the youth in order to increase parent involvement, positive communication, reduction in verbal and physical abuse, and more. The parenting and youth programs are also showing promise for substance youth reduction, increase use of existing resources, and increase help-seeking behavior for mental health issues. This program views youth in the context of their family and community and implements programming based on local needs and grounded in research. Evaluation data help guide the program and help us to evolve the program to maximize effectiveness for meeting the target population's needs.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Ashurst has a Ph.D. in Family Science. She has been working for the past 20 years with the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service focusing on children, youth and family programming for at-risk and underserved audiences. She has guided the growth of more than $20 million in federal grant-funded family programming as Director, Co-Director, and Coordinator throughout her Extension career. She is versed with all facets of developing, implementing, evaluating and sustaining effective programs for at-risk audiences. She has collaborated and networked across the state and country to spearhead all aspects of program development and strategic planning; grant writing and award processes; fiscal, fundraising and compliance matters; task force and state/regional/national team governance; and organizational change focus for reaching underrepresented communities. She has developed an extensive network of relationships throughout the state and country of people and organizations who believe in the transformative power of strength-based prevention programs for the highest risk and most underserved audiences. She also has instructor certifications in both the ADULT and the YOUTH versions of Mental Health First Aid.

Mr. Atkinson has worked for over 10 years as a grant coordinator focusing on military families and youth. He has coordinated more than 30 family camps for military audiences and has provided extensive programming for military youth. He is the state coordinator and primary program facilitator for all programs summarized in this proposal. He also has instructor certifications in both the ADULT and the YOUTH versions of Mental Health First Aid. Mr. Atkinson is currently working on a Master's Degree in Community and Leadership Development.

Keyword Descriptors

foster care youth, life skills, foster parent programs; relatives raising children

Presentation Year

2020

Start Date

3-9-2020 3:00 PM

End Date

3-9-2020 4:15 PM

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Mar 9th, 3:00 PM Mar 9th, 4:15 PM

Empowering Today's Foster Youth and Parents for Tomorrow's Future

Session 3 (Plimsoll)

The purpose of this presentation is to share how Kentucky developed a program focusing on life skills for foster youth before they "age out of the system" to increase self-sufficiency and parenting skills for foster parents and relatives that are raising youth. Objectives include increased understanding and use of critical life skills for self-sufficiency by foster youth; increased understanding and use of critical parenting skills; and increased community partnerships among youth and family organizations in target communities.