georgia youth opportunities initiative
Call GYOI today: (404) 880-
We are a collaborative effort between public, private, and non-
Georgia Youth Opportunities Initiative
100 Edgewood Ave., Suite 810
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: (404) 880-
Fax: (404) 880-
GYOI uses five core strategies of Youth Engagement, Partnerships & Resources, Research Evaluation & Communications, Public Will & Policy, and Increased Opportunities to improve outcomes for youth in foster care especially in the areas of permanence, employment, financial capability, housing, physical & mental health, and social capital. These five strategies are described in detail below.
Objective: To prepare young people to be meaningfully involved as decision makers and self-
The GYOI Youth Engagement strategy is facilitated by EmpowerMEnt. EmpowerMEnt began in 2002 as the Youth Engagement Strategy of the Metro-
EmpowerMEnt is comprised of regional leadership boards at varying stages of development, which the youth elected to call “Tribes” in order to signify a close familial bond and network of support. Tribes are led by a current or former foster youth who serves as the tribe coordinator, along with the help of community-
EmpowerMEnt is under contract with the Administrative Office of the Courts to conduct “Here are my Rights” trainings which educate youth on their legal rights and responsibilities, as well as effective advocacy strategies. These trainings are conducted with youth, community stakeholders, agencies, foster parents and government officials on the legal rights of youth. EmpowerMEnt also provides additional trainings to stakeholders and youth that are tailored to the audience but may include the topics of authentic youth engagement, adoption, encouraging youth advocacy and awareness of issues facing youth in care.
For more information please visit the Georgia EmpowerMEnt webpage at www.georgiaempowerment.org.
PARTNERSHIPS AND RESOURCES
Objective: To access resources of public and private systems and philanthropic organizations; expand & deepen community support; and cultivate community champions for young people transitioning from foster care.
The Community Partnership Group functions as Georgia’s Community Partnership Board. Comprised of more than twenty-
The goals and priorities for the CPG sub-
RESEARCH, EVALUATION, AND COMMUNICATIONS
Objective: To involve key stakeholders in using data to drive decision-
PUBLIC WILL AND POLICY
Objective: To advance policy and practice that improves outcomes for young people transitioning from foster care.
GYOI’s Public Will and Policy core strategy is guided by EmpowerMEnt’s efforts to identify the needs of youth in care and where there may be gaps in practices and policies. Over the past decade, Empowerment has developed policy and practice priority areas, and updated them as progress has been made. In early 2014, EmpowerMEnt published an updated list of their policy priority areas.
From these priorities, data will be reviewed and policy and practice goals will be updated. Advocacy strategies are developed together with community partners to influence public policies that address the needs of youth in and transitioning from care.
Working with and guided by our partners at Voices for Children, JUST Georgia and the Barton Law Clinic, EmpowerMEnt advocates have worked to improve policy and practice affecting youth in care. This has resulted in extending Medicaid to age 21 (2008) and helping parenting youth in care remain with their children (2011). Other policy and practice wins that youth and adult partners have influenced include:
2009 – Funding received from the Administrative Office of the Courts/Court Improvement Project to strengthen the engagement of youth in Court Proceedings by developing and implementing a curriculum that informs young people in each region of their rights and the court process. The “Hear My Rights” training is facilitated to youth, the courts, foster parents, CASA and other stakeholders by EmpowerMEnt.
Also in 2012, the Georgia Psychotropic Medication Monitoring Project, based at the Barton Law Center, released a report making recommendations regarding the over-
Objective: To create an array of opportunities and help young people gain access to them.
GYOI’s state partners facilitate GA IDA, a matched savings program supported by the Independent Living Program (ILP). Young people who are ILP eligible (have spent six months or more in care after the age of fourteen) can complete a financial capability curriculum and open an IDA account. Participants can withdraw money once until their 21st birthday and receive a match for up to $1,000 towards the purchase of an asset in the areas of housing, vehicles education, credit repair, employment or training, microenterprise and investments. Over 100 young people are participating in the GA IDA program at any given point.
GYOI also continues to explore expanding the matched savings program to be in full alignment with the national Jim Casey model. Full alignment includes qualifying participants will be between the ages of 14-
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