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Casey Family Programs grant keeps "aging out" youth program running

Aug. 20, 2007

DETROIT - An $800,000 Casey Family Programs grant over the next two years will allow a critical project helping Wayne County foster youths aging out of care to continue, state officials announced today.

Creating Independence and Outcomes (CIAO) - one of five such programs nationwide - helps current and former foster youths aged 17 to 20 obtain critical career-related skills. In the last three years, about 150 Wayne County youths have learned important skills as they prepare to leave foster care to become self-sufficient adults. The joint project by the Michigan departments of Labor and Economic Growth and Human Services previously was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Casey Family Programs grant provides $200,000 in 2007 and $600,000 in 2008.

"This generous grant will benefit hundreds of Wayne County foster youths and help them become stable, self-sufficient adults," DHS Director Marianne Udow said. "We are grateful Casey Family Programs recognizes the need for these vital supports."

CIAO - named because it means welcome and goodbye at the same time - offers a variety of services for Wayne County foster youths, including GED completion, career planning and referrals for internships and employment opportunities. Partnerships with community organizations offer seminars in financial planning, reproductive health and successful parenting.

"We provide important life skills tied to employment so youths can become successful," CIAO Director Paul Duford said. "It's not a cure-all but we've definitely made an impact on helping them become employed and helping them retain employment. We've also been successful in getting youths enrolled in college, re-enrolled in high school or in GED completion programs."

Wayne County has the state's highest concentration of the state's 19,000 foster youths. In 2006, 536 Michigan youths left foster care, or "aged out," and research shows they are at greater risk for poverty, homelessness, unemployment and other negative outcomes. A survey of 264 Wayne County foster youths who aged out in 2002 and 2003 revealed that only 41 percent had graduated from high school and nearly half had been homeless. About 14 percent of those surveyed had been unemployed, and their average monthly earnings were $600.

"Together DLEG, DHS and Casey Family Programs will help to create brighter futures for Michigan's youth aging out of foster care in the Detroit area," DLEG Director Keith W. Cooley said. "We look forward to working with Casey Family Programs in this exciting endeavor."

Seattle-based Casey Family Programs provides services to foster families and promotes improvements in child welfare practice and policy. Established in 1966, its current endowment is $2.5 billion.

Foster youths living in Wayne County between the ages of 17 and 20 can call 313-628-2302 for details about the program and how to access the services offered by CIAO.

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