We hold an Introduction Day, each November, for any young person in foster care to experience what we offer. For those, age 13 to 17, who make an initial commitment, Boot Camp is next, a three-month program setting the stage for the basic skills and life-training that follows. No all foster youth are ready for such a commitment and not all have the support they need from their case managers or group home leaders.
Those who make the commitment to continue will begin the two-year program and hopefully transition into the four-year Masterclass. Those courses address the most pressing needs foster teens face in their present and for their future lives.
Experiential learning is the method we apply in exposing these foster teens to new life-skills and ways to become more whole - emotionally, spiritually (developing hope and faith) and physically - and to set a vision for their future.
Our coursework includes exposure to yoga, Tai-Chi and meditation as well as helping participants become more mindful, grounded and focused. Teaching compassion and kindness is learned through our core value of selfless service - in other words, service to others. It is amazing, how this one value redirects negative self-energy into something more positive in young lives. These youth begin to identify their own personal values (generally lacking) and eventually achieve a sense of contentedness through the wide community of support available..
Each young person participating is exposed to 8 different career paths with dozens of work-learn experiences annually in each of these fields: Wellness/Self-Care; Culinary Arts/Nutrition; Construction/Trades; Individual/Mass Communication; Agriculture/Farming; Animal Care/Rescue; Environment/Nature and Creative Expression through Fine, Commercial and Performing Arts. They are not taught in classroom settings but in actual work-learn environments from which their resumes can also be enhanced. These experiences also provide an opportunity for each teen to giveback to the community helping those in need.
With no concept of what the practical implications are of living on their own, our young people are educated about how to: obtain a driving permit, practicing driving (a challenge in the system), getting their driving license, understanding what insurance is needed and what is involved in buying their first car. Again, under-educated about what a healthy, balanced life outside of the system looks like, these young people learn about budgeting and banking, the responsibilities and the tools or skills needed to apply for a job they'd like, and what is involved in renting or buying a first residence. Not surprisingly, most of these teens also have no idea how to obtain a copy of their birth certificate, acquire a social security number or state ID - or why they need them. We help with the basics.
For older teens, exposure to Educational Options is available as well as Job Readiness training, which includes what to wear, interviewing skills, performance expectations, developing a resume and identifying jobs that fit their natural gifts and aspirations.
A critical step for moving forward in life is to define one's goals and dreams, since many of these kids have no thoughts of the future past the next week or next month. One of the key questions they are asked is, "What problem would you like to solve?" That one question instills a sense of power and these young people begin to think perhaps they can make a difference. They define what success looks like to them and life is explained in a way that clarifies how the path to get to where they are today to where they want to be - is rarely a straight line. These youngsters, often for the first time, begin to see a future ahead for themselves.
Young people from the foster care system come to us with many challenges to overcome. Some are over-medicated so they are less disruptive and others have no personal values - since most are shuffled from home-to-home with limited supervision. All of them experience only public education - with no consistent voice to advocate for their personal learning challenges. The case managers who care for them, assigned by the State, change routinely so there is no stability in getting the individual help they may need.
These young people have low self-esteem because they often come from abusive environments where they were reminded of their flaws consistently. They wear used clothing that rarely fits and have a sense of disconnectedness - even at school - because they bear the "foster kid" label. Many come to us angry and frustrated about their lives and their futures.
With 50+ nonprofits serving the Arizona foster care system, you'd assume many nonprofits overlap services. With some organizations, that's true but the programs of the Scott Foundation are unique; our programs are comprehensive and transforming.
What we offer that others do not:
As participants mature in our Masterclass program, they are asked to write a three-line traditional Japanese haiku (poem), the epitome of emotional clarity and focus, reflecting their evolution or transformation in this program. Here are a handful of examples, which are much more powerful than routine testimonials.
Scott-Foundation.org | P.O. Box 4927 Cave Creek, AZ 85327