Community Foundation of Broward and The Jim Moran Foundation Tackle National Foster Care Issue on Local Scale Through Novel Pilot Program

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Ft. Lauderdale—The Community Foundation of Broward (CFB) and The Jim Moran Foundation (TJMF) have joined forces to become the first funders in Broward County to collaborate and tackle a national foster care issue that impacts hundreds of young adults in Broward County each year: the catastrophic results of youth 18-23 who "age out" of the system without any significant practical, emotional, or financial support. Together, the Community Foundation and The Jim Moran Foundation have allocated $200,000 for grants for this specific issue. Significant funding from The Jim Moran Foundation has allowed for a separate $70,000 grant awarded to Kids@Home - a nonprofit dedicated to the well-being of foster care youth - for a one-year pilot program geared to create Broward County's first transitional foster care apartment setting early next year.

The housing complex will serve eight transitional foster care youth who do not qualify for the Road to Independence Scholarship program. Nationally, it is estimated that 45 percent of foster care teens who leave the system experience homelessness and/or unemployment. Only about half complete high school and over 60 percent of the girls give birth by age 22. By the time they have been out on their own for two years, 40 percent are on some kind of welfare. "These stats prompted both Foundations to get on the forefront of this challenge," said Linda Carter, CFB president/CEO. "To bolster CFB's strong leadership role on the issue, we promoted broad participation and dialogue. We met with the Lieutenant Governor, held Community Conversations to educate donors, and coordinated interviews with foster care teens to get direct feedback. Our purpose was to discover the most urgent challenges that face emancipated foster care teens, raise awareness, and help create solutions."

The CFB thoroughly researched the topic and helped form the Road to Independence Committee, comprised of members of various local organizations. It also co-funded a research study that resulted in the creation of the Transitional Independent Living Strategic Plan to serve as a guide for organizations and others to help young adults effectively transition. "Outlined in the plan are the top eight steps that must be taken," said Carter. "First on the prioritized list is safe and affordable housing. That prompted our stepping forward to ensure that a tailored and effective plan was put into action."

"Consistent with our mission statement to improve the quality of life for the youth and families of Florida through innovative programs, The Jim Moran Foundation is pleased to be on the forefront in providing foster care youth with opportunities for a better future," said Jan Moran, Chairman and President. "We look forward to working with the Community Foundation on this key issue and ensuring that results are achieved."

The premise of the pilot project is to house eight transitional youth, and a supervisor appointed by Kids@Home, in a four-six unit apartment complex in a yet to be determined location in Broward County. Participants in the program will be helped and encouraged, via daily visits from supervisors and weekly group meetings, to meet seven core goals: develop long-term relationships, learn life skills such as how to pay bills and balance a check book, effectively use community resources such as public transportation, advance their level of education, earn an income, chose a career path, and live independently in a quality housing situation. After they reside in the complex for at least a year, the participants will transition to their own apartments, with continued assistance and supervision from Kids@Home staff. Kids@Home will match all allocations, including those from the Community Foundation and The Jim Moran Foundation, to sustain the program for a second year.

"Our partnership with the Community Foundation of Broward and The Jim Moran Foundation will have a tremendous impact upon this pressing issue," said Kids@Home president/CEO Dan Brannen. "These two leading organizations have the wisdom, resources, and compassion to make a real difference. When foster teens are emancipated at only 18," he continued, "America's next generation of adults is ill prepared and wounded -- not capable of living out healthy and happy lives as contributing members of society. But thanks to this strong collaboration, lives will change for the better."

"This pilot program is a small dent in a mammoth and growing problem," summarized Carter, "But it's also a strong and smart step in the right direction. We challenge other local and national funders to support this important initiative through increased dollars and advocacy."