United Way California Capital Region gathered 130 foster youth and community leaders working on foster care issues for its inaugural Foster Youth Summit on April 5 at the Sacramento State Ballroom. Participants in the summit identified opportunities to increase the number of foster youth who graduate from high school and go on to complete post-secondary education. Initial opportunities identified include a need for trauma-informed training for service providers, permanent relationships that last into adulthood, financial resources to assist with housing, employment training, and mental and physical health care. United Way is convening an action group from interested attendees and will release a summary report of findings in late spring that will determine the direction of United Way’s foster youth programs.
“This summit uncovered significant gaps between the needs of Sacramento-area foster youth and the services being provided,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “We heard reoccurring themes from former foster youth about the challenges they face when they age out of care. We need to disrupt the systems we are currently using to care for our foster youth, and the outstanding participation in this summit was an important first step in our action plan to bring our community together on this issue.”
Nonprofit service providers, state and county foster youth advocates, school districts, foster youth and other supporters came together for a deep dive into community level data, a foster youth panel on real-world implications of the data, breakout sessions and a keynote speech by Jennifer Rodriguez, JD, executive director of Youth Law Center and a former foster youth.
For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation: YourLocalUnitedWay.org.