Special Populations Collaborative

Foster Care Individuals

Alan Hancock College - Independent Living Program

800 S. College Dr., Santa Maria, CA 93454

Contact: Joe Pollon, Program Coordinator, 805-922-6966 x. 3568 or jpollon@hancockcollege.edu

Target population: Foster parents and foster children.

Goals: The primary goal is to increase the number of foster parents/families who have positive experiences and that result in successful foster children.

Description: The Foster and Kinship Care Education Program is designed to offer education and support to foster parents/families in order to insure their continuation in foster parenting as well as to increase the number of foster families in the county. The program offers classes and workshops on effective foster parenting. The Independent Living Program is a series of classes for foster children who are beginning to transition out of the foster care system due to age. Foster teens are a unique set of students. Fewer then 20% receive any post-secondary education, many leave the foster care system and transition to high-risk situations where they frequently end up as teen parents, on probation, homeless, and/or abusing substances. The program offers classes that teach them how to live alone or with other older peers (ex-foster children). The classes are on topics such as:

∑ Money management,

∑ Cooking, and

∑ Financial aid options for post-secondary education.

Additionally, the program tries to assist the children in issues such as finding transportation and housing. The portion of the program administered by the county Department of Social Services also provides the emancipated foster children with an emancipation package as they leave care. The package includes items such as computers, kitchen items, and small appliances. Each package is as child-specific as possible.

Staffing: The Foster and Kinship Care Education and Independent Living Programs are staffed by 5 part-time staff members, two of whom work the maximum allowed time of 170 days a year.

Facilities, equipment, materials: Two computers, presentation equipment and a small office

Costs, funding source: The Foster and Kinship Care Education Program receives approximately $100,000 annually from the California Community College Chancellorís Office. The Independent Living programs receive approximately $11,000 from the State and $11,000 from local governments annually.

Outreach and marketing: There is relatively little marketing necessary as all foster children must participate in Independent Living Programs and all current and prospective foster parents/families must complete pre-placement and continuing training.

Evidence of effectiveness: Evaluations are administered after each class. The Santa Barbara County Office of Education tracks graduation rates. Tracking former foster youth following emancipation is difficult as they often break contact with the department of social services and move frequently. These measures in addition to federal and state oversight are used to evaluate program successes and changes needed.

Suggestions for replication: It is important to have a large number of people in foster childrenís lives as well as in the foster familiesí lives. These people offer support and act as role models. It is important to maintain professional development for the foster parents/families. With more effective parenting and care, the foster child will be more successful in life.