In most of my 40 years of work within the foster care system, service delivery has, for the most part, been fragmented; each bundled nicely within its own silo. The thought of integrating, or terms like “seamless service delivery,” not only didn’t exist, but were discouraged. Bureaucrats were more interested in protecting their turf, budget, control…or whatever. The thought: “This is just the way we do things...” prevailed; and rarely did the question “can we do it a better way to serve foster children?” come up. The big losers were always the kids.
Fortunately, over the past decade things have changed. With the emergence of “best practices,” Wraparound Principles and other enlightened initiatives, along with a big dose of diminished public funding, the foster care system has begun to work smarter and be much more attentive to what is in the best interest of children and youth. What a no-brainer concept! The Family Care Network has had the opportunity to be part of this change process, not only as a provider, but as a lead organization.
Once again, I am very pleased to announce that our organization has been given another opportunity to initiate a new seamless service delivery model for transitional age youth in Santa Barbara County. Beginning July 1st, the Family Care Network will begin delivering Independent Living Program (ILP) services to all foster youth in Santa Barbara County. The ILP program is a very important resource for foster youth who do not have permanent family connections. The program is designed to make sure each foster youth aging out of the system has a very specific Transition to Independence Plan, as well as the necessary skills and knowledge of available resources to make a successful transition from system dependence to adult independence.
For a number of years now, the Family Care Network has been providing services to transitional age foster youth through our THPP and THP-Plus programs. Both of these programs are linked to ILP by statute. Add to these services the ILP program and the implementation of AB 12, which extends foster care eligibility to age 21 (beginning in January, 2012), and you have a seamless, integrated and comprehensive service delivery program for serving current and former foster youth. This integrated approach will allow for a much more efficient use of precious public funds while enhancing the services that these young people desperately need.
I am very excited to be able to pioneer this new approach for serving foster youth. As most of you know, I am very passionate about making sure that foster youth have every opportunity to succeed, and have worked very hard towards this end. I’d like to offer a special thanks to Santa Barbara County Social Services for their confidence in the Family Care Network to enhance the lives of these vulnerable youth.