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Indiana picked to launch foster-youth transition program

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The Indiana Office of Guardian Ad Litem/Court Appointed Special Advocate is one of 16 programs in the National CASA Association that will use a pilot program to help young adults leaving foster care.

The Indiana GAL/CASA office was awarded a $75,000 grant in March by the National CASA Association to help launch Fostering Futures, a program that will engage GAL and CASA volunteers as advocates and advisors for foster youth ages 14 to 21. The volunteers will help the youth identify supportive adult connections and develop specific plans for making a successful transition from foster care to becoming an independent adult.

The risks for young adults leaving foster care without a permanent family include homelessness, unemployment, and substance abuse.

National CASA Association CEO Michael Piraino said the organization selected Indiana’s office because of its strong commitment to working with youth as they transition out of foster care.

Representatives from the state office attended training programs in April and early June. Leslie Dunn, Indiana State Director of GAL/CASA, said the office is in the process of rolling out the program. They notified CASA directors around the state about the program and asked for volunteers who would like to work with older youth. The state office has close to 100 volunteers.

Dunn said last week they held an overview training of the pilot program for staff and CASA program directors who have volunteers participating in Fostering Futures. Volunteers will be trained in August through five sessions in Anderson, Columbus, Evansville, Indianapolis, and South Bend.

She said the state office will monitor the progress of the volunteers’ work with the youth at least through the grant term, which ends in March 2011.

The Wal-Mart Foundation helped begin the national program in 2009 by donating $1.6 million to the National CASA Association.
 

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