Hartnell College's Workforce and Community Development and the Monterey County Department of Social Services joined forces last year and launched an initiative called the Independent Living Program.
"The program provides educational opportunities to prepare youths who are in out-of-home care to successfully transition from dependent living situations into adulthood and life on their own," explained Michael Foudy, Dean of Hartnell's Workforce and Community Development. "There are three segments of the program," Foudy said. "One is called 'Going Places' and is for youths ages 13 to 15. The second is for ages 16 to 18 and is the Independent Living Program (ILP) Core Services. Lastly, we will offer Aftercare Services to support emancipated youth, ages 18/19 to 21, who are achieving independence."
Classes for Going Places and the ILP Core Services meet four times each every month.. "We have two classes at Hartnell's main campus in Salinas and two classes at the Oldemeyer Center in Seaside," said Natalie Culver, Independent Living Coordinator at the college.
"With the younger students our training is broad based, following a social learning model. We focus on subjects like study skills, self-esteem, goal setting and communication," Culver said. "Our Core group has sessions designed to teach the skills and outlook the youths need to be resilient and successful. Our modules include daily living and employment skills."
Culver said both groups earn incentives for participating. "Some of the incentives we give are coupons to local fast food restaurants and gift certificates from local shops. ILP Core participants earn specific incentives such as personal computers and apartment starter kits," she said.
Aftercare Services for emancipating youths offers one-on-one training and referrals to connect youths with community resources, particularly for education and employment. "On campus we have an ILP office with a staff member to provide training and assistance," Culver said. "A computer, printer, fax, copier and telephone are available for their use. Any student interested in pursuing a college education is helped with financial aid procedures and connected with all campus resources.
Foudy, who worked with the Department of Social Services for many months to develop the program said, "We are really pleased with our programs and feel we are making a huge impact. There is immense potential for programs such as this. We have the opportunity to start our youth down the path towards successful adulthood. The students who are participating are really enthusiastic," he added.
For further information about the Independent Living Program at Hartnell College call the ILP Office at (831) 755-6807.