Thanks to a grant-funded program and training from the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF), youth in foster care are being equipped to operate in the high-tech marketplace they will enter in adulthood.
As youth in the foster care system turn 18, they are faced with many career choices and the obstacles that come with independence. One way DCF’s Independent Living Program strives to prepare them is to equip them with the tools and skills necessary to seek and apply for jobs online and to continue their education.
A series of computer camps hosted by the agency in July provided 175 select older youth, who either recently exited or are about to exit the State’s care, with a laptop and printer and a day of technical training, thanks to the Chafee Grant. The grant receives 80 percent of its funding from the federal government, and 20 percent from the State.
“Access to technology is essential for our youth to become successful adults,” Independent Living Program Manager Stacy Tidwell said. “Most jobs require online applications, and resources are more readily available to youth with technology.”
The Independent Living Program offered the day-long sessions in Iola, Hays, Manhattan, Wichita and Topeka. Along with hands-on training and instruction, the participants received two meals and a snack in the nearly 10-hours-long camp. Upon successfully completing the camp, participants received a new laptop computer with carrying case, software, printer, flash drive and warranty.
“It’s incredible they are giving us these computers for free just so we can be successful,” Olathe participant Shashona Durham said. “And the fact that they are serving us breakfast and lunch and the only thing we have to pay for is transportation is even more awesome.”
Durham has studied at Johnson County Community College for two years and will transfer in the fall to Kansas State University to study marketing and international business. She said the computer will help her not only with school work, but also with budgeting the money she earns from the two jobs she works in Kansas City.
Shashona Durham, 20, Olathe, former foster youth who participated in the Topeka Computer Camp