Southern California boasts one of the largest foster youth populations in the country, and PBS SoCal is poised to share their stories. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation recently awarded PBS SoCal a $1.7 million grant for a three-year foster youth initiative. The goal of the initiative is to start a dialogue among stakeholders, such as schools, agencies, and community leaders to find creative solutions to the tremendous challenges many foster youth experience throughout their lives.
The Struggle is Real for Foster Youth
“The idea for this initiative came out of conversations with our community partners about ways we could better serve the community and help it solve its most pressing problems,” says Marketing Manager, PBS SoCal, Stacy Shaffer. A study by the Hilton Foundation discovered some harsh realities for foster youth after they “age out of the system.” Just four years after leaving the system:
- One in three foster youth receives food stamps
- Less than half report any earnings
- 75 percent are unemployed or do not have consistent employment
Research by the Alliance for Children’s Rights reveals issues in the educational upbringing of foster youth in Los Angeles County:
- By third grade, four out of five have repeated a grade
- By grade 11, only one in 20 is proficient in math. And only one in five in English
- Less than half graduate high school
Shining a Light on Foster Youth’s Plight
The initiative seeks to build awareness of these issues and to shine a light on how the foster care system often leaves youth with few personal, educational or vocational resources to build successful lives.
Connecting Foster Youth with the Community
PBS SoCal will produce on-air and online screenings, panel discussions and social media campaigns in hopes to engage the community.