EL CENTRO – In an effort to continue providing services to foster youth in Imperial County, the Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Project ACE contract between the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program and the County of Imperial Department of Social Services in the amount of $317,387.00 during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.
For many years, Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program (IVROP) has provided contracted services to youth in foster care, ages 15 ½ and up to 17, and former foster youth up to 21 years of age. One contract is the Independent Living Program which fosters youth ages 15 ½ up to 17 years. Through a separate contract, Accessing Careers through Employment (ACE) has provided transitional housing placement services to former foster and probation youth ages 18 to 24 years.
These services are a result of laws, Foster Care Independence and Connections to Success Act allowing federal funding to extend foster care up to age 24.
“We would like to continue contracting with IVROP – Project Ace for these valuable services that are truly needed to assist our current and former foster youth in Imperial County,” said Peggy Price, director, Social Services. “In an effort of efficiency and seamless services, we are combining these three agreements into one contract.”
According to Price, the program will provide participating youth with a variety of services including academic instruction, career exploration and awareness, academic and vocational counseling, life skills training, mentoring, transitional housing services, enhanced academic instruction, leadership development, specialized instruction, employability skills, and work experience.
The agreement is for a one-year term from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.
The goals of the program is to improve the academic skills of targeted youth to better prepare them for higher education and the world of work, provide targeted youth with career exploration activities, improve the social, mental and physical well-being of targeted youth, refer youth to available mentoring programs, improve the life skills of participating foster youth, provide financial literacy training activities to youth and provide older foster youth with skills to become successful adults and link them to housing assistance programs if necessary.
“This year we had eight local seniors graduate who were in our program,” explained IVROP Project Manager Luis Torres. “Nationwide only fifty percent graduate and we had one hundred percent of our high school seniors graduate. This is just one example of the things we can accomplish with our program.”
Additionally, Price said one student enrolled in the program is living in Temecula, but with valley family ties, who recently received a university scholarship.
“This program has been going on for a while,” said Michael Kelley, District 3 Supervisor. “As a former Chief Probation Officer I know the importance of having youth with a solid foundation with which to build a future life. You guys (ACE) have done an outstanding job. You have opened your doors to the kids in need that would otherwise not have these opportunities. I support what you have been doing and continue to do for a successful future for kids that don’t have anybody to push them in the right direction.”