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Creating Support For Foster Teens

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Multisector Collaborative Project Part 4

Creating Support for Foster Teens

Walden University

May 19, 2007


In order to create support for foster teens so they can live healthy and productive lives, I plan to coordinate collaboration efforts between stake holders in the different sectors of the community, including the business sector, the philanthropic sector and the government sector, to create a home for some of these teens to live in while they are attending school and finding jobs in order to be self sufficient adults. The community issues I plan to address are incarceration rates, high school graduation rates, homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, health and mental health problems and early pregnancy rates, all of which are risks for foster teens as they turn 18 and are released from the foster care system. The stake holders I have identified in connection with the collaboration are the Department of Child Protection Services, the Department of Welfare, the local school system, the local police department and the local employment office for the government sector, the Vectren Corporation and local universities for the business sector and the Villages, the United Way, the Salvation Army, local homeless shelters, the YWCA and the local food bank for the philanthropic sector.

The Stakeholders

For the business sector, Vectren’s role in the local plan to eliminate homelessness will come into play. A representative from Vectren will be asked to participate in the collaboration, in order to make sure that any teens that are being released from the foster care system will not become homeless. Some of the funding will also come through Vectren’s foundation. The local universities will provide career assessments and college readiness information, as well as counseling on tuition assistance and knowledge on how to persuade students to enroll.

The government sector will be the most represented. In 1999, a new law was created to provide support for teens leaving the foster care system. This includes funding through the Chaffee Program and making these teens eligible for Medicaid, which is where the Department of Welfare would participate, making sure that all the teens involved with this program have medical coverage. The distribution of Chaffee Funds would come through the Department of Child Protection Services (DCS). Also, DCS would act as a referral system, referring eligible teens to the program, and offering the support of caseworkers. The local school system would also be a referral source and would assist in tutoring or other issues that arise dealing with keeping these teens in school, graduating and preparing them for college. The local police department would share their expertise in preventing delinquency and offering training for care givers and for teens in self defense, safe driving skills, or other life skills. The local employment office would be involved by giving job training, including computer skills, skills assessments and job compatibility assessments.

The philanthropic sector would assist through the Villages, who would also refer eligible teens to the program, and provide guidance on running the home. The United Way would possibly be a source for funding, and also a source of knowledge in fundraising and partnerships. The Salvation Army would help with donations of clothing and furniture, and the local food bank would help with food donations for the home. Local homeless shelters, including the one at our community’s YWCA would also be a source of referrals, in case any of these teens do end up in these shelters, and they could also be a source of knowledge about operating a group home.

All participants will play important roles, with the philanthropic sector providing knowledge from previous experiences on how to raise funds and create public interest in our goal. This sector would also provide some items needed to create the home. The business sector can help provide administrative support, or knowledge about that support. The governmental sector would provide funding mostly, but also training on meeting requirements for that funding.

Possible Barriers and Challenges

One possible barrier to a successful collaboration is a lack of communication between partners. A clear goal needs to be set and agreed upon by all members of the collaboration. The goal in this instance is “to provide support for foster teens so they can grow to live healthy and productive lives”. This goal has many sub-goals that need to be identified in order to make it work, which can and will be listed as a group. Some of the sub-goals I would contribute would be teaching these teens home economics (i.e. cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and banking skills); family planning in order to avoid unplanned pregnancies; good health practices including diet, exercise, and personal hygiene; stress management with classes available in art, gardening and yoga (and others open to suggestion); and possibly group therapy if needed. Regular meetings and communications between partners will also help with communication problems. A regular report should be created and sent to all partners, keeping track of information, progress and potential problems.

Another barrier to a successful collaboration is a lack of trust. According to Winer & Ray (2005) everyone cannot be expected to be open and honest, and to enhance trust collaborations need to choose a convener for meetings, involve every member in meetings, have effective meetings and share their self interests with the other members. In order to involve everyone in the meetings, we will have a period in each meeting where everyone will be recognized for their participation and contributions, along with giving them another chance to contribute. When a problem needs to be solved, it will be a group effort.

Handling information can be a barrier, also. Each stake holder will be responsible for appointing someone to organize the data coming into their specific organization, and at each meeting will supply that data to the group. Someone within the group will then be appointed to the organization and upkeep of this data, along with other records, which should be easily accessible for the other members when needed.

Creating a conflict resolution process (Winer



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