Once Janet Kelly, President of Va Kids Belong shared the heart breaking statistics for the youth who age out of Foster Care with no permanent home, Don DeLaney and I immediately inquired as to how we could serve this population. Janet said I have just the person to whom to introduce you...
So in April 2019 another door opened for us when Janet introduced us to Andrea Edmunds, who at the time served as Community Relations Director for Fostering Acadia in RVA. Andrea has an absolutely amazing heart and was so great working with FAs young adults. Matter of fact Andrea and her husband Andy have fostered several children in addition to raising several of their own.
Andrea in turn introduced us to Jason Brown. Jason founded Fostering Acadia (FA) in 2017 as an Independent living (IL) agency licensed by the Va Dept of Social Services to serve young adults between the ages of 17-21 who have come through the foster care system. Due to Jason’s leadership, and his talented team, Fostering Acadia is now the largest single site IL program in the state. https:www.fosteringacadia.org
Our partnership with Fostering Acadia over the past year and a half can best be described as an evolution as both organizations tried to figure out how best to utilize our talents.
The first iteration was to have TSF provide soft skills training to small groups of young adults. While overall well received we learned pretty quickly the level of engagement for some of the young adults in that kind of setting was going to be problematic.
So the next iteration was for TSF to conduct two on one sessions with each young adult to help them prepare for a specific job by significantly enhancing their resume tailored to the qualifications of the job, helping them to become more aware and focus on their strengths and not their deficiencies, understanding employer expectations and helping them to prepare well prior to an upcoming job interview.
This worked much better and pretty soon we became known around the FA office as the “jobs people” as opposed to the “boring old guys” trying to teach them something they had little to no interest in learning (even though we ended up teaching a lot of the same skills in a very different environment!).
One of the first things TSF does when we meet a young adult for the very first time is to let them know we are totally on their team and are all in to help them succeed. The key is that we totally back it up by doing everything we possibly can (utilizing community resources and our connections) to connect them to local resources to apply for the appropriate certification and/or job opening and then support them on their new journey.
We are now well into our third iteration which we are very excited to share particularly since through collaboration with another RVA partner, we feel like we have designed a real “game changing” plan which we think can make a huge difference in the lives of these young adults.
Gary S Powers Executive Director