Summit County Children Services, Akron, OH

The Summit County Youth Emancipation Task Force & Enhanced Post-Emancipation Services: A Community Serving Former Children of Foster Care

Abstract: Each year approximately 70 youth emancipate from foster care in Summit County, Ohio.  Through research and follow-up contact with emancipated youth, Summit County Children Services (SCCS), the Akron-based public child welfare agency for the county, identified an emergent need to engage with community partners to break through barriers and provide much-needed services to former foster children struggling in young adulthood.  Data collected from former SCCS foster children showed significant problems in the following areas: lack of support systems; inability to access needed healthcare and mental health services; struggles with achieving higher education success and living-wage employment; inability to secure and maintain stable housing; and daily difficulty accessing transportation.  Further, many of the young adults encountered additional struggles with various types of legal issues – ranging from the lingering effects from a juvenile record, adult criminal charges, as well as fully understanding contractual and leasing responsibilities.

To address the multitude of identified needs among these young adults, SCCS established The Summit County Youth Emancipation Task Force in 2009 – ultimately bringing together more than 50 community agencies with the goal to reduce barriers and make needed services accessible to assist emancipated youth in establishing self-sustaining, independent adulthood.  In conjunction with establishing strong community partnerships through the task force, SCCS also enhanced its internal post-emancipation service delivery to young adults age 18 – 30.  During 2010 - 2011, more than 200 emancipated individuals were served through SCCS post-emancipation services -- and through task force community partners, more than 100 young adults were served.

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