Along with millions of Americans, many older youth in foster care have faced unemployment, economic hardships, and increased instability during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent poll conducted by FosterClub of more than 600 current or former foster youth across the country found that nearly 65 percent of transition age youth who were working before the pandemic have lost employment and half of those who applied for unemployment benefits did not receive assistance.
“Jayden,”* a young man in San Diego County foster care, was among those whose career opportunities were affected by COVID-19. Thankfully, Jayden has a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) who helped him navigate this tumultuous time.
Jayden is a non-minor dependent in extended foster care (EFC), which is a special program allowing youth to remain in foster care until age 21, provided they meet certain educational or employment criteria. Recently, the young man had been accepted into the Job Corps program. Jayden’s CASA, Colette, had brought him to his Job Corps interviews and helped him to gather the needed paperwork.
Unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, Jayden was not allowed to enter the program due to safety restrictions put in place. Although he was disappointed, Jayden had also been interested in joining the military. When he expressed this to Colette, she gathered the materials he would need to study for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a test that helps to determine someone’s qualification to enlist in the U.S. military, and dropped them off at Jayden’s doorstep. After studying diligently, Jayden scored a 95 percent on the test and is now waiting to hear if he will be accepted into the military.
CASAs like Colette provide valuable support to youth in a critical stage of life when they are learning the skills and resources needed to transition into adulthood. During these unprecedented times, CASAs continue to help youth acquire the tools to live independently, adapt to unexpected changes, and pursue their dreams. With the help of his CASA, Jayden was able to turn a challenging and disappointing situation into a new opportunity.
For more information on how Voices for Children is able to continue meeting the needs of our community’s children during this time, please visit our COVID-19 Response page.
*Names and other identifying details have been changed to protect confidentiality.