From Our CEO: Recent Testimony Regarding LA County Motion on Self-Sufficiency

The following testimony was shared at the August 22 Board of Supervisors meeting by CEO Janis Spire in support of a board motion calling for “culture change countywide to integrate support for self-sufficiency of foster youth throughout all county services.”

My name is Janis Spire, CEO of the Alliance for Children’s Rights. Thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of this motion regarding coordination of efforts for transition age foster youth.

The Alliance for Children’s Rights has worked in the trenches with older youth who are attempting to transition from foster care to independence. We have led systemic efforts and know first-hand that it takes a village to brighten their futures. We are grateful that this motion endorses the creation of that village.

The good news is that much of the work contemplated by this motion is already well underway. You call for the identification of existing programs that assist transition age youth. To that end, two substantial efforts, now working together, already include many of the vital community stakeholders involved in this work.

First, the Los Angeles Performance Partnership Pilot, or P3, aligns major public institutions with private philanthropy to combat barriers to youth seeking jobs, education, housing and heatlhcare. High level leaders from the City and County of Los Angeles, L.A. Unified School District, the L.A. Community College District and Cal States, along with LHASA and community-based organizations all collaborate to serve youth who may be homeless, on probation, out-of-work, or out-of-school. P3 presents a first ever opportunity for these public institutions- with overlapping jurisdictions and no previous mandate to coordinate services- to weave a safety net to support self-sufficiency for thousands of young people across the County.

Second, the Opportunity Youth Collaborative, spearheaded by the Alliance, is a key partner in P3, ensuring that the unique needs of foster youth are understood and addressed. The OYC unifies and coordinates the efforts of City and County agencies with foster youth service providers and the court to improve education and employment outcomes. Together, P3 and OYC share a plethora of resources and successful transition models for vulnerable youth.

I am here to prompt you to direct the CEO’s Office and the Office of Child Protection to begin with an immediate engagement with P3 and its participants, including the OYC, to speed improvement and avoid redundant efforts.

I also urge the Board to compel the participation of DCFS high level leadership in
response to the Board’s Motion. DCFS leadership is not participating in the P3 and OYC efforts at this time. Without DCFS key decision makers, foster youth have little chance of benefitting from these cross sector efforts. As the search for DCFS leadership is nearing an end, I urge the Board to make this motion a top priority for the incoming director.

The motion calls for engagement by the philanthropic community. Philanthropy has invested millions of dollars, just since the passage of AB 12, supporting community organizations, college campus programs, and workforce programs that provide for the needs of older foster youth. So philanthropy is engaged. But these charitable organizations realize that their efforts, like our own, will not go far enough to realize significant improvements in the lives of our youth without the commitment of DCFS to work in consistent partnership with both public institutions and community organizations.

Thank you again for your consideration of these steps to adequately prepare our County’s foster youth for a successful future.