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Groups connect young MOs in foster care with professional life skills / Public information service

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Helping complete a FAFSA form for Federal Student Aid is one example of Missouri community partnerships that support young people pursuing education and careers as they age outside of the foster care system. (Bill Doss / Adobe Stock)

By Lily Bohlke – Producer, Contact

June 30, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Community partnerships in Missouri are working to help young people, whether in foster care or not, connect to the resources they need to start independent lives, and the pandemic added financial hardship to many.

DeWayne Bright, Sr., youth advocate for the Local Investment Commission (LINC) in Kansas City, works with the Chafee Local Independent Living Initiative. It connects young people with life and work skills and internships, and helps them pay for things like transportation and work clothes.

Bright said the pandemic had had a major impact on many of the children he worked with.

“They were working in situations where their hours were reduced,” Bright explained. “A lot of them already had unstable housing situations. It really affected our kids terribly. And so, we’re just trying to help them really find some stability.”

He added that LINC and Chafee Services also help young people access state and federal funds available to them, such as helping them complete financial aid forms or requests for education and training vouchers to pay. their studies.

Robyn Wolfe, director of youth development for Community Partnership at Rolla, said a big part of the Chafee independent living program is about being a voice to help young people stand up for themselves. She added that their individual needs can be very different.

“On the one hand, it can be things related to employment and housing, and aging,” Wolfe noted. “And then for another, it might be soft skills, like I need to learn how to make better decisions and control my anger. Then you could have the ones that are very tangible: I want to learn how to do laundry; I want to learn how to cook a healthy meal. “

Partnerships also support host families.

Tom Dugger, executive director of Families and Communities Together in Hannibal, said their foster family donation programs include items ranging from housewares, clothing and school supplies to cribs, mattresses and car seats.

“We have a car seat technician, and the car seat technician can make sure the seat is properly installed in their car,” Dugger said. “If they have an old seat, we can check it out.”

Families and Communities Together, as well as LINC and the Community Partnership in Rolla, are affiliated with the Missouri Family and Community Trust and Kids Count Missouri. All are working to improve outcomes for the state’s children and families.

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