Career & Education Support Services

Programs within this service division are designed to meet the various needs of our school-aged children and youth, and our youth transitioning from foster care to adult independence, helping them to overcome barriers in order to achieve their career and/or academic goals, and become successfully self-sufficient in all areas of their lives.

Services:

  • Assist children and youth to achieve improved behavior, performance and attendance in school
  • Help high-needs youth develop strong life skills 
  • Empower youth in developing a community-based support system in preparation for foster care emancipation
  • Support youth in their efforts to become responsible, healthy and productive members of their community

Transitional Age Youth Financial Assistance Program (TAY-FAP)

Established in partnership with SLO County’s Department of Social Services in 2010, TAY-FAP provides financial assistance to any current or former foster youth participating, or eligible to participate, in San Luis Obispo County’s Independent Living Program. TAY-FAP leverages community resources, grants and a dedicated program fund to help youth enroll and attend higher education and/or vocational programs. As TAY-FAP focuses on increasing participants’ enrollment in post-high school academic programs or vocational training, its overall goal is to assist current or former foster youth in obtaining meaningful employment with sustainable wages after they leave care. Since the program started, we’ve supported 294 youth in reaching their goals. 

TAY-FAP funds cover:

  • Housing
  • Transportation needs
  • School/Vocational School supplies
  • Urgent and/or emergency needs related to independent living expenses, such as: utilities, household items, groceries, finding housing/employment, etcetera.   

2020/2021 IMPACT

57
Youth Served in their quest for higher education at 17 different institutions
TAY_FAP_20/21

Dylan

At 19, Dylan had figured she’d already “seen it all.” Her parents had left her at a family friend’s house when she was only a child, and never returned or even spoke to her again. Since then, she’d seen every kind of “home” since--foster homes, prospective adoptive homes, and group homes. Even though Dylan grew older, it seemed that her emotional self didn’t--she remained scared, angry, and defiant, and her behaviors reflected these feelings. At 19, Dylan now found herself at a loss for what comes next--she had no money, no job, and her housing was provided only because she was still considered a dependent of the Child Welfare System. She knew she needed a plan for her future, and a path forward.

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Independent Living Program (ILP)

FCNI took over the delivery of the ILP program in partnership with Santa Barbara County’s Department of Social Services in July, 2011, and then with the San Luis Obispo County’s Department of Social Services in July, 2015. The purpose of ILP is to empower current and former foster youth through education/vocational training, life skills development, advocacy, work readiness training, and community collaboration. Program participants work with our Rehabilitation Specialists to learn a broad range of independent living skills necessary to become successfully self-sufficient. Since implementing ILP, we have served 1,231 youth in their efforts to:

  • Successfully transition to Independent Living Plan (TILP)
  • Learn the skills necessary to become self-sufficient
  • Complete high school and/or successfully enroll in college or vocational training with a goal to secure meaningful long-term employment

2020/2021 impact

300
Youth Participated in ILP and received training in financial literacy, career planning, and life skills development
281
Youth were supported in their quest for higher education
99%
of participants established one permanent adult connection outside of program staff for long-term support

Emiliano

Having grown up thousands of miles from California, Emiliano felt like a fish out of water when he relocated there at age 15. Following his parents’ sudden death in South America, Emiliano had no choice but to move to the Central Coast to live with his only remaining family member, his father’s brother, an uncle he’d never met. Everything about the move was difficult--Emiliano was given no real time to process the sudden death of his parents or having to leave the only home and community he’d ever known. And everything about the US was different--people called him “Emil” instead of Emiliano and they spoke in a language he didn’t understand, and everything--cars, TV shows, even the kids at school--seemed to move at a rapid pace that overwhelmed him. Unfortunately, Emiliano’s uncle had no idea how to support him through all of these challenges. His uncle was kind, but distant, and admitted that he was ill equipped to meet Emiliano’s needs. With no other options, Emiliano was placed into foster care to receive critical support and stability.

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Education Support Services

We’ve been providing Education Support Services to every school-age child placed with us in any of our Foster Care programs, Transitional Housing Support Services and Wraparound programs in SLO County since 1990. Working in collaboration with our community partners, the goals of the agency’s Educational Services include:

  • Educational planning
  • Advocacy and special education support
  • Caregiver and staff training
  • Vocational guidance
  • College planning and financial aid guidance

2020/2021 impact

12
Volunteer Tutors Spent 159 Hours Supporting Children/Youth
18
benefitted from Being Matched with a Volunteer Tutor
168
Volunteer Tutors Hours Spent Working with Children / Youth

Career Mentors

FCNI’s Career Mentor opportunity connects foster youth who are working towards adult independence with local professionals, providing these youth with opportunities to learn more about various career paths and goals in order to assist in their own career/academic planning. Career Mentors inform and provide insight and encouragement to help our young adults reach their potential, ultimately inspiring them to pursue their dream professions. Currently, FCNI provides both Short-Term and Long-Term Career Mentor opportunities.  

  • Short-Term Career Mentor--Dedicate an hour of time to meet with an FCNI youth at their place of business, sharing about their profession and the path they took to reach their career goals. By sharing their experiences, inspiration, and encouragement with a youth, they help youth set and reach their own career goals. 
  • Long-Term Career Mentor--Commit to a year of career mentoring and meet with an FCNI youth at least twice a month (for a total of approx. 6-8 hours per month). During this time, the Career Mentor develops a one-on-one relationship with an FCNI youth and supports them in their career/academic planning.
Caereer_Mentor_20/21

2020/2021 impact

15
Career Mentors spent 17.5 hours providing direct support to 17 different youth

Why I Mentor: A Career Mentor's Reflection

“Starting with my father, and other relatives who were father-like figures, I had great role models [growing up]. [And then] during my career I had multiple mentors who guided me along the way. One of them is 90 years old and still guides me [today]. There is nothing better than watching someone grow and prosper [...] nothing better and more important than working with our youth. It brings great rewards to the community and psychic income to yourself. [But] you get out of it what you put into it. So it’s always a positive experience for me.” --John, Volunteer Career Mentor