A $30 million initiative to help thousands of transition-aged foster youth secure stable housing, pursue higher education and receive better services in the Bay Area is being launched by a San Francisco-based anti-poverty organization.
The nonprofit Tipping Point Community announced the “Better Futures for Foster Youth” initiative earlier this month. The goal is to reach about 4,000 young adults ages 14 to 24 in the Bay Area by working to change policy and improve systems to help youth find housing and better services, according to the organization.
“We are cutting right to the heart of the structural issues that make the system stacked against foster youth,” said Sam Cobbs, president of Tipping Point. “We want these youth to have the same support, care and opportunities we’d want for any of our own children. We have to improve the systems that will better serve their needs and make it possible for them to succeed.”
In addition, a first-ever statewide data platform to identify services and interactions with youth will be funded through the initiative, according to Tipping Point.
“Once developed, this data platform will stand out because at this point in time, data isn’t coordinated across counties, or sometimes not even coordinated within the same county,” said Alex Chan, director of strategic initiatives at Tipping Point Community. “For example, today, various agencies and service providers don’t share data with each other so therefore they can’t see a holistic picture of a young person multiple agencies may be serving.”
The objective of the new platform is to allow decision makers and service providers with the information needed to identify where foster youth are succeeding and where they need additional support across a wide range of outcomes, Chan said.
Cobbs said the focus on transitional age foster youth comes from the need in the Bay Area.
“Knowing that one in three foster youth end up experiencing homelessness by age of 25, we determined targeting this population at moments of transition would be an important lever to reducing homelessness in the region,” Cobbs said.
Initial grantees on the initiative include John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY), the National Center for Youth Law, On the Move, and the University of Chicago.
“The youth we’re focusing on in Better Futures got the short end of the stick, twice, from their tough childhoods and from the system that wasn’t able to make good on its promise,” said Amy Lemley, executive director of JBAY, in a statement. “We can do better by them, and we must.”