Job & Family Services Office of Workforce Development
Connecting the Dots - from foster care to employment and independent living

Every year in Ohio, approximately 1,000 to 1,400 young people age out of foster care.
National statistics indicate that foster youth are one of our nation’s most vulnerable populations after they emancipate:

- 81% of males are arrested by age 24
- 48% of females become pregnant by age 19
- 33% receive neither a high school diploma or GED, compared to fewer than 10% of their same age peers
- 33% have household incomes below the poverty rate (3 times higher than the national rate)
- 22% experience homelessness
- about 60% of rescued sex trafficking victims say they spent time in foster care

According to a report published by the National Governors Association, relatively small investments in these youth now can save more than $5.7 billion over the lifetime of each group that emancipates from foster care in any given year.

To help turn these numbers around, three offices within ODJFS launched a collaborative, comprehensive initiative:  Office of Workforce Development, Families and Children, and Family Assistance.

Goals of Connecting the Dots 

- improve educational, employment, and earnings outcomes;
- support foster youths’ transition to adulthood;
- prevent and reduce the incidence of early pregnancy
- share resources to assist youth, such as OhioMeansJobs.com, OhioHereToHelp.com, Ohio Career Information System, and OhioMeansJobs Centers.

In 2013, pilot programs were launched in five locations to integrate WIA youth program services and foster care independent living services. The following eight counties are involved:  Cuyahoga, Lake, Summit, Hamilton and a consortium of Montgomery, Greene, Preble, and Clinton. The primary target audience are youth in foster care who are 16-18 years old and young adults formerly in foster care who are 18-21 years old. Pilot ends June 2015.

Key service components
Educational supports: tutoring, dropout prevention, high school completion or GED attainment, credentials, enrollment in training or college after high school
Career exploration, work readiness training,  job placement;
Adult mentoring through a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters;
Pregnancy prevention through a partnership with the Ohio Department of Health Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP);
Enhanced independent living services;
Program integration and capacity building of youth service programs.

Last updated: 03/21/2014