Approximately 70 current and former foster youth attended Independent City on November 8, 2014 at the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) campus in Linda Vista. Funded by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency and coordinated by their five Independent Living Skills (ILS) contractors, Independent City provides the youth with an opportunity to gather a variety of information as well as practice tasks in preparation for self-sufficiency. SDCOE graciously provided the venue as well as breakfast and lunch for this annual event.
Each year, the ILS contractors (Access, Inc., New Alternatives, Inc., San Diego Youth Services, South Bay Community Services, and YMCA) collaborate to ensure that Independent City is as interactive and meaningful as possible for the 16-21 year old youth in attendance. The goal is to get the youth thinking about their future and how to prepare for it now!
During this 5-1/2 hour ILS event, youth participated in round table discussions focused on education, employment, budgeting, housing, healthy relationships, community resources and Extended Foster Care. ILS staff facilitated these discussions by sharing potential scenarios to encourage a dialogue between the youth and to provide clarification and education as needed. Independent City youth also rotated through a hands-on financial literacy workshop held in a computer lab. Youth “received” $838, which is equivalent to the monthly stipend non-minor dependents residing in a Supervised Independent Living Placement receive. The youth had the task of budgeting their money on housing, utilities, food, transportation, and incidentals. This challenging task proved to be a favorite activity for the youth as they learned the importance of making sound financial decisions.
In line with their budgeting training, youth earned “Barry Bucks” (so named after the Health and Human Services Agency Manager for the Independent Living Skills Program) during Independent City which could be spent in “Barry’s Boutique” for like new clothing, shoes, accessories, household items, books, and more! Youth enjoyed shopping for a variety of items, and one lucky youth even went home with a new pair of Dr. Dre Beats which was raffled off at the end of the day!
Independent City is always an opportunity for our current and former foster youth to gather valuable information and put their ILS knowledge to the test!