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New program helping foster teens in Maricopa County find careers

PHOENIX — A new program in Maricopa County is helping teens in foster care get on the right path to a career.

The Keys to Success program by the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation is aimed at helping teens who are nearly 18 and will soon be cycled out of foster care.

Executive Director Kris Jacober said many of the kids approaching 18 years old are not sure what to do or what career they are interested in, so the program helps them figure that out.

“For many, many kids in foster care, nobody’s ever said to them, ‘You know, you’re really good at writing,’ or ‘you’re a good speaker’ or ‘you are a good chef’ — just all those kinds of stuff that maybe your parents do when you’re growing up,” Jacober said.

Teens get one-on-one help in learning about different careers and jobs they might be interested in, Jacober said. The program even helps line up some employers looking to hire for entry-level positions.

At this time, the program is very small and has so far helped about 50 kids with remarkable success, according to Jacober.

“A hundred percent of them said it helped them figure out what their career path could be and almost 100 percent of them are employed and have had work experience,” she said.

With 800 teens expected to turn 18 in Arizona over the next year, Jacober said she hopes to see the program continue to expand.

“The goal for 2015 is to reach 100 kids, then to just go up from there,” she said.

Jacober said people can donate to the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation and receive a tax credit. More information on how to help can be found on the organization’s website.