EDCOE Foster Youth Summer Employment Program Empowers At-Risk Youth

EDCOE Foster Youth Summer Employment Program Empowers At-Risk Youth

00:00 AM - September 06, 2018

 Dr. Ed Manansala, County Superintendent of Schools, speaks at the Red Hawk Casino luncheon celebration.

Dr. Ed Manansala, County Superintendent of Schools, speaks at the Red Hawk Casino luncheon celebration.

(Left to right) Jody Franklin, Linda Soto, and Cathy Zuber

(Left to right) Jody Franklin, Linda Soto, and Cathy Zuber

This summer, 12 local adolescent foster youth gained professional skills and hands-on experience in an innovative internship program through the El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE). Initiated in 2009, this annual program provides these at-risk youth with meaningful guidance, training, and employment opportunities. 

Sheila Silan, Foster Youth Services Program Coordinator for EDCOE, stressed the benefits of the summer internship program. “Many foster youth in this age-group have foster parents who work during the day, so students spend their summers being unproductive. Helping them acquire skills to be successful in the workplace is critical for future success and will decrease reliance on social services in the future. This program strategically develops the soft skills that they need to succeed professionally.”

The summer foster youth internship program is a community effort, involving a number of local agencies and small businesses.

Interns begin with a week in the classroom at the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College, receiving an orientation to the campus and academic programs. Behavioral health specialists from the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians teach time management, problem-solving, healthy relationships, conflict resolution, stress management, and more.  Next, the youth attend workshops on resume writing, interviewing, communication, health, and substance abuse, offered by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Foster Awareness Network, and the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency. Wells Fargo Bank also introduces financial planning concepts.

After the weeklong skills-building training, interns are assigned to worksites throughout the community, including Sally Beauty Supply, The Windfall Magazine, Breaker Glass, EDCOE-IT, El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce, Progress House, Waterfall Salon, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Sign Banner Print, El Dorado Homes, and Thompsons Auto Group.

Once underway, the interns and their foster families receive ongoing support with daily transportation, lunches, and financial assistance for appropriate work attire.

Kevin Brown, the owner of Breaker Glass and an El Dorado Union High School District Board Member, employs interns year after year. “It’s vital to ensure these young adults receive the professional support and experience needed to be successful after high school,” he said.  “I wish all of the interns the best of luck.”

The internship program culminates with a luncheon celebration with program partners at Red Hawk Casino. Interns receive a certificate of completion, letter of reference, and a completed master application and resume.

Participants in the foster youth summer internship are grateful for this unique program. “I not only learned more efficient work skills,” stated one intern, “but I also made memories, learned time management, and better people skills. To me, everything I learned from this experience has benefited me in my life.”

Another commented, “This was the best internship I have ever experienced because my co-workers were amazing, and I had a lot of support in my workspace.”

El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Ed Manansala, expressed his gratitude to luncheon attendees. “Thank you to Sheila, her team members, our agency partners, and community leaders who ensure these foster youth have meaningful opportunities to learn, serve, and fulfill their potential.”

Jenny Wilson, WIOA Employment Training Supervisor, knows the program is successful due to the strong partnership with community agencies and local employers. “This summer youth program gives our local employers the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these young people.” 

This summer, three of the participants have been offered continued employment following the internship.

For more information about this and other EDCOE programs.