Since founding Fostering Connections St. Johns one year ago, Aubrie Simpson-Gotham and a host of community supporters have found so many ways to serve the overwhelmingly-underserved population of kids in foster care. This March, the organization is partnering with The Kookaburra for a three-week program called Career Readiness Academy. This career and life skills course will help teenagers and young adults ages 14-25 who are or were in the foster care system.
“There is very little support for these young adults as they age out of foster care,” says Aubrie. “Not having the needed job skills training to obtain and sustain employment, many former foster youth have financial difficulties, become reliant on government benefits, and fall into difficult life circumstances. We want St. Johns County to lead the way for Florida and the United States to have the most supports in place to help all foster youth become happy, healthy, successful adults. Working together as a community, we can help each young adult achieve their goals.”
That’s where Career Readiness Academy will come in. Workshops will cover basic skills that all youth need to secure a job – how to write a resume, how to apply for a job, interview skills, work attire and appearance, basic customer service skills, working with team members, and financial literacy. The students will write a resume and learn customer skills from Kookaburra staff members, even working alongside them in the shops. Alicia Somers, Financial Wellness Manager for Regions Bank, will be leading a Basic Banking workshop. Students will graduate with a certificate and a binder full of tools to help them as they apply to jobs.
“We will be working with local restaurants and small businesses to help place the students into jobs,” says Aubrie. “We’ll also be partnering with local businesses to provide work attire, haircuts, and transportation such as bicycles for the students to help them be ready for their job search. We invite local individuals, businesses, and community leaders to partner with us in supporting these programs. There is something for everyone to do to help fill in the gaps for our local youth in foster care.”
Learn more about Fostering Connections St. Johns by visiting www.fosteringconnectionsstjohns.org. Photography by Stephanie McFee.