Organization of the week: First Place for Youth

First Place for Youth is a non-profit in Oakland, CA, dedicated to helping youth in foster care transition to living on their own. The California foster care system kicks children out as soon as they turn 18, leaving them to find their way in the world on their own, without the family-based support system that other 18-year-olds have. The numbers for these youth are stark, as stated on First Place for Youth’s website:

Without housing, education or emotional support, 65 percent of foster youth will face imminent homelessness, 20 percent will be arrested or incarcerated, 46 percent will complete high school and only 3 percent will graduate from college.

First Place for Youth has been successful at defying these negative statistics and helping many youth transition to adulthood:

First Place for Youth pioneered four innovative programs designed to defy negative statistics among former foster youth by providing an innovative mix of:
* permanent housing with a graduated subsidy
* employment training and job development
* education assessment and support
* transformative emotional support and community building

Over the last decade, First Place has had a profound impact on our youth participants. When compared to other transition age foster youth, First Place youth are:
* five times less likely to experience homelessness
* three times less likely to give birth before the age of 21
* three times less likely to be arrested
* six times more likely to be enrolled in college
* twice as likely to graduate from high school
* twice as likely to be employed

It is inspiring to me to learn about programs like this. Youth who are in foster care already have troubled lives, and badly need this sort of support to help steer them in a positive direction. It is an important way to strengthen our communities and decrease violence and crime. I am glad that there are wonderful programs like First Place for Youth out there!


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