Ventura County Children and Family Services’ Foster VC Kids has been one of the most innovative initiatives in the state of California, serving predominantly as a recruitment tool in Ventura County. In addition to the successful Foster VC Kids Initiative, there are a plethora of valuable initiatives that support and provide for resource families and the youth they care for.
When the Businesses with Heart (BWH) Initiative began it was to provide discounts from local merchants for families entrusted with helping the resource families with needs for their children. The resource families and now birth parents using “BWH Cards” have made the program one of the most beneficial for resource and biological families in Ventura County. By providing discounts on products and services, mentorship and job opportunities, resource families have access to support in order to empower and encourage the youth and children they care for.
What wasn’t realized was the impact the BWH Initiative, over 40 businesses strong, would have on other key elements for youth 18+ that have come through foster care during their lives. Many of the BWH entrepreneurs – have begun to do much more for our Ventura County youth in care. As the business owners have learned more about the need of the youth – they have additionally begun providing mentorship and even better, jobs!
Chipotle Mexican Grill, which had been around for over 25 years, has been pivotal in the success of youth in care in Ventura County.
Youth in care are at risk the minute they set out on their own and it is crucial that they receive the support and encouragement from their community. Within the first five years of being emancipated, more than 50% of youth in foster care become a statistic of unemployment. Without jobs, most of these youth become homeless, 40-50% to be exact! (2007) Our Children: Emancipating Foster Youth. Retrieved from http://www.thesoh.org/about-us/foster-youth-statistics-need/
Jaci Johnson, Program Coordinator/Resource Family Recruitment, Development & Support for Ventura County Children and Family Services said, “I think what makes our youth so resilient is that they always hang on to hope. They know there’s something bigger and better out there for themselves and they believe in themselves no matter how difficult it is, through their ups and their downs. You talk to these kids and they themselves are able to dig so deep into their inner strength and it’s just that hope, it’s never give up on themselves.”
Recognized as a best practice leader statewide in the family recruitment and support component of child welfare, Ventura County Children and Family Services’ Foster VC Kids was developed to increase the amount of loving resource families who are ready to take in children in need in Ventura County. This initiative provides resource families with ongoing support services, trauma-informed training, and mentorship to enhance the safety, permanency and well-being of Ventura County’s youth and families. Learn how Ventura County Children and Family Services’ Foster VC Kids is making a difference throughout Ventura County, www.fostervckids.org.