Our goal is to achieve a permanent home for the youth we work with, whether that is with parents, with other family, or with a foster or adoptive family. That is not always possible, especially for youth who age out of foster care with no family safety net. That makes it difficult to avoid a precarious free fall when facing the same problems as their peers—often with dire consequences.
Recognizing this, KidsVoice stays with our clients through age 24, up to six years after they age out of care, through our Expansion Team. By addressing job training, public benefits, credit, healthcare, social security disability, expungement of juvenile records, and many other areas, we help former foster youth have a better chance of obtaining and maintaining stable employment and housing.
Our advocacy for older youth includes targeted needs that are easily overlooked, such as transitioning from the juvenile mental health system to the adult system without interruptions in treatment or medication. We connect our clients with County-funded Independent Living resources, and often find unique and innovative services to help older youth grow into adulthood.
We provide legal representation and advocacy services in four areas crucial to transitioning successfully to independent living. Our intake interviews ensure that we assess and address all issues across the full range of services we provide, even when clients may first approach us about a single, simple issue. Below are some highlights.
Employment and Education
Two-generation advocacy helps to address multi-generational poverty, gaps in adult educational attainment and workforce preparedness, along with children’s developmental delays and lack of school readiness. We connect parents to resources for job training, subsidized or free childcare, and assessments of development delays for their children. We advocate for educational plans that provide job and life skills necessary to help teenaged foster youth to live independently. Our workforce development collaboration with Partner4Work and Auberle Employment Institute connects youth with job training programs in in-demand fields that pay a living wage.
Housing, Public Benefits, and Food Insecurity
Our housing advocacy matches clients with safe, affordable housing and ensures that public benefits are available to help cover housing costs where applicable. We help clients navigate the complex Social Security benefits application and appeal process. We emphasize building strong relationships between clients and community-based providers for food and other essential resources.
KidsVoice represents clients in MDJ summary offense cases (offenses at the magisterial level), avoiding unnecessary criminal records and fines and reducing subsequent re-arrests. We work with youth to expunge delinquency records (for example, for shoplifting food) before they age out of the system. We regularly address credit issues resulting from parents or foster parents putting utilities or credit card charges under our clients' names without our clients' knowledge. We also address fraudulent use of a child's Social Security benefits by former caregivers.
Health, Behavioral Health, and Disability
We advocate for health care and insurance to ensure that clients do not avoid medical care until they visit the emergency room in a health crisis, resulting in negative health and financial outcomes. We maintain or connect clients with needed mental health services when they age out of care. KidsVoice has specialized expertise in advocating for clients with autism, intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities. We ensure their rights to special educational, vocational, employment, mental health, and permanency needs, along with social security disability and supportive housing. During the pandemic, we formed an innovative COVID-19 partnership with Children’s Hospital that provides priority medical reviews by expert nurses.
To learn more about these services, please visit the resources page or contact KidsVoice. Support for older youth comes in part through the Lipman Youth Fund.
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