SCO Family of Services and Fair Futures took the steps of Borough Hall to ask the city for funding for youth programs in the foster care program. Fair Futures, a coalition of nearly 100 child welfare agencies, nonprofits, foundations, advocates and young adults are hoping the city will be the first to offer one-on-one support to foster youth from middle school to early adulthood, as they noted only 22 percent of the city’s foster youth who age out graduate high school by age 21 and 20 percent will become homeless by 24.
The City Council recommended $10 million to scale to $50 million in three years in their budget response but the mayor didn’t heed their advice in his executive budget. Now it’s up to lawmakers to include funding in the final budget.
“We need our city and state leaders to work with us, the nonprofit organizations that provide homes for children in need of foster care, to do more,” said Keith Little, CEO of SCO Family of Services.
Little said SCO helped 96 percent of the 12th graders it serves graduate from high school.
“Help us,” Little said. “Resource us to be mentors and coaches that these children and youth need. When given guidance and support, these young people succeed. They soar.”
The coalition is asking the city to invest $50 million annually in a coaching program that supports foster youth from middle school to age 26 because the kids need a coach to help them navigate life as adults once they are out of the system. The program is entirely privately funded which is why it only reaches 12 percent of foster youth who need it, a coalition spokeswoman said.