St. Joseph Orphanage and Pressley Ridge have been chosen to operate an innovative program aimed at helping local foster children transition to adulthood using a youth-centered, trauma-informed approach.
GreenLight Fund Cincinnati and Hamilton County Job and Family Services have teamed up to bring First Place for Youth to Cincinnati and have chosen St. Joseph and Pressley Ridge through a competitive bidding process. First Place for Youth will provide housing, education and employment services to former foster youth transitioning from the public children’s services system. It will serve about 100 young people a year.
The program will officially launch on Jan. 1, 2020.
“Both of these organizations partner with us in other program areas and we are confident their leadership will help make First Place for Youth a success in our community,” said Moira Weir, director of Hamilton County Job and Family Services. “We are excited to add this innovative program in our efforts to help young people who too often age out of our system without support.”
Tara Noland, executive director of GreenLight Fund Cincinnati said “GreenLight is excited to bring this model to Cincinnati, which will build the capacity of two local nonprofit organizations. These organizations do amazing work locally and adding this best practice model to their services will make a tremendous difference for youth in our community aging out of foster care.”
St. Joseph Orphanage is a comprehensive behavioral health and educational treatment agency that helps children and their families on the road to recovery and success. It cares for more than 5,000 children and adults a year struggling with mental health and behavioral concerns in 10 Southwest Ohio counties.
Pressley Ridge provides individuals and families with hope and support through life’s challenges. Each year, 8,000 children and families are strengthened through community-based mental health services, foster care and adoption, specialized education and new services for transition-age youth.
First Place for Youth originated in California and has a proven track record in helping youth develop necessary skills for adulthood. 91 percent of participating youth are employed when they graduate form the program. The education and workforce based program uses housing as a stabilizing force. Young people in the program live independently in apartments and receive wraparound support, education services, employment services and other help to become self-sufficient. This model, which is new to Cincinnati, will be operated by an existing, local non-profit organization who will be chosen later this month.
Weir, whose agency operates the local foster care system, said approximately 100 children a year “age-out” of the foster care system at age 18 or 21, meaning they are not reunified with their biological parents or adopted by new parents. Weir’s organization worked with the University of Cincinnati’s Economic Center on a recent study that found children aging out of the local child welfare system eventually cost local residents $17.7 million in social expenses and lost productivity each year. Those costs are related to the youths’ involvement in the criminal justice, homeless and health care systems, as well as lost productivity because they are not employed at the same level as their peers in the general population.
The GreenLight Fund works to improve the lives of low-income children and families by partnering with local community leaders to identify gaps in services in our community and then scours the country for innovative approaches to filling those gaps. Once a solution is found, GreenLight invests an initial $600,000 and draws on community connections to launch the solution in Cincinnati. GreenLight then measures results to ensure real change is happening.
GreenLight Fund Cincinnati has raised $1.8 million in funding from organizations such as the Cincinnati Business Committee, the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Bank of America, Duke Energy and others. Launched in 2015, it has served more than 1100 children and families through two portfolio organizations, the Center for Employment Opportunities and the Family Independence Initiative. First Place for Youth will be GreenLight’s third investment in Cincinnati.
First Place for Youth has an extensive database of outcomes that make it a proven program ideal for replicating in our city. Hamilton County Job and Family Services will match GreenLight’s initial $600,000 investment with $6.5 million in ongoing support.