Letter: Department will provide for young adults

The Advocate’s July 15 article, “Transition program targeted,” spoke of the department’s plans to phase out the Young Adult Program. While the program is ending, the Department of Children and Family Services will continue to connect the 130 youth in the program to appropriate services, ensuring that each child is able to continue his or her positive progress toward independence.

Changes to the YAP program will ensure these youth are connected to community resources to help and support them through the transition into adulthood.

Going forward, DCFS’ recently launched Faith in Families initiative is dedicated to safely reducing the number of children in foster care, reducing the time children spend in care and ensuring all children/youth exit foster care with a permanent connection. DCFS will continue to work aggressively to identify family or other community members who can provide lasting relationships for young people and working to the overall goal of no youth ever aging out of foster care.

DCFS will continue to provide specialized independent living services for youth beginning at age 14, well in advance of their reaching the age of majority. We must provide them the supports and tools needed on the front end, before they age out of foster care, to become successful young adults instead of the possibility of having to rely on years of additional government services on the back end.

We will continue to develop a strong service array that includes community resources to support helping teenage foster children gain the skills and confidence they need to achieve a productive and meaningful independence into early adulthood, including housing, workforce readiness and education.

For the approximately 40 young adults in YAP and in supervised apartments, efforts are being made to transition them to other suitable arrangements such as their own housing with rental and utility payment assistance through the Louisiana Housing Corporation, reconnection with suitable relatives and/or past positive support systems. To date, 25 of these young adults are now in their own homes with assistance from the LHC.

Our priority is to continue to provide supports to children still in high school and in foster homes.

We are committed to ensure that every youth who exits foster care does so with a specific plan that assures their success.

Suzy Sonnier, secretary

La. Department of Children and Family Services

Baton Rouge