Lily Kirschner, Feedback Labs | March 9, 2023
Third Sector is a nonprofit advisory firm whose mission is to transform public systems to advance and improve equitable outcomes. Oscar Benitez (Managing Director) and Ty Peake (Manager) supported Candis L. Jones (Chaffee Independent Living Program Director) in presenting a LabStorm at Feedback+Atlanta about helping young people to navigate adulthood after foster care in Atlanta. The Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) identified youth who needed additional support during the transition out of foster care, and tasked Third Sector with overseeing the development of new transition processes for youth and staff in the DeKalb and Fulton counties of Metro-Atlanta. While DCFS established a continuum of support model to stabilize the transition out of care, young people still needed more support to develop the skills and know how to pursue career options after foster care.
During the LabStorm, Third Sector and DFCS presented challenges the agency grappled with related to offering enhanced better life skills development, potential strategies to garner interest in post-high school plans, and how to receive youth feedback on these new initiatives without creating a burden. Attendees identified through robust discussion three key insights and recommendations for addressing these challenges through Georgia’s Resilient, Youth-Centered, Stable, and Empowered Independent Living Program:
Provide opportunities for relationship building
Setting up youth who are aging out of care with a mentor whom they can look to for guidance, problem solving, and to help ensure accountability is one method of continued support that creates a greater sense of individualization. Relationships with potential employers or life coaches who can bring them along through potential employment opportunities likewise creates a partnership grounded in establishing strong futures for youth.
Offering real experiences is key
During the discussion, participants emphasized the importance of ensuring youth have the opportunity to engage in real “on the job” experiences and practice the skills they’ll need for life after care. There are multiple ways that organizations have mimicked spending and budgeting or offered other methods of developing financial literacy that allow youth to see firsthand what those experiences are like and to practice new skills necessary for adulthood.
Incorporate the strategies used in philanthropy
At times it can be difficult to translate the brainstorming spaces and conversations about collecting feedback and methods of addressing challenges that are constantly occurring in philanthropy into other environments. Other spaces tend to deal with resource constraints and have less extensive knowledge around integrating community voice and best feedback practices. It was advised to encourage government agencies to ask more questions and try to create dialogues where initiatives and programs can be analyzed more regularly.
At the conclusion of the LabStorm, Oscar, Ty, and Candis noted that relationships are at the heart of working and supporting youth. In addition, they said that Government agencies should build strategies around “small tests of change” – asking questions, trying it out in the field, and adjusting as needed. Lastly, Third Sector and DFCS stressed the need to overlap and combine programs to be accessible and meet the needs of youth. In 2023, Third Sector is supporting two additional metro-Atlanta DFCS offices in Henry and Fayette counties to develop their own methods for supporting all youth aging out of foster care.
Learn More About LabStorms
LabStorms are collaborative problem-solving sessions designed to help organizations tackle feedback-related challenges or share what’s working well in their practice.
Presenters leave the experience with honest, actionable feedback and suggestions to improve their feedback processes and tools.
To learn more about participating in a virtual LabStorm, please visit feedbacklabs.org/labstorms.