LOS ANGELES — The Children Youth and Family Collaborative (CYFC) is an innovative and nationally recognized service provider for foster youth that establishes partnerships with school districts and youth-centered organizations with the purpose of ensuring foster youth graduate from high school and have the opportunity to pursue a college education.
Founded in 1993 with just one staff member, the organization began by serving 25 foster youth at Holman United Methodist Church. Today, CYFC provides programming in six school districts with successful replication of its recognized model in more than 35 schools. The programs serve approximately 2,000 foster youth annually.
“Foster youth are our collective responsibility,” said Executive Director Lydia Cincore–Templeton. “They are innocent and we as a society are failing them: half will not receive a high school diploma, 40-60% will become homeless within six months of emancipation, and less than 2% will ever earn a college degree.
“Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job by training school districts throughout the country to better support and educate foster youth so that the achievement gap for foster youth will be eliminated.”
California has the highest population of foster youth in the United States and the educational outcomes for foster youth are disturbing. However, for every year of its existence, CYFC’s high school graduation rate ranges from 91 to 100%.
CYFC’s premier program, the Academic Remediation, Intervention, Support Services and Education Program, known as ARISSE, has been proven to significantly increase the academic performance and graduation rate of foster youth. In 2010, the impressive outcomes resulted in CYFC being awarded the “Innovation3 Grant” from the Obama administration for expansion into 18additional schools.
CYFC also has received funding from every major foundation in Los Angeles including the Annenberg Foundation, Ahmanson Foundation and is a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grantee. CYFC’s latest program, College Level Up, is designed to not only help foster youth go to college, but seeks to ensure that at least 75% of youth enrolled in the program graduate.
For Cincore–Templeton, who worked as a missionary in Africa during the Hutu-Tutsi conflict, working with youth who do not have parents in their lives is a calling. She strongly believes that organizations like CYFC are critical to ensuring that foster youth can thrive during their present circumstances and as they transition into adulthood.
“These are our orphans just like I served in Africa,” Cincore–Templeton. “We must truly surround these children with support in the absence of their parents. The community must step up and realize that people raise children, systems don’t raise children. We have a shared responsibility to ensure that these children are safe, educated, well cared for and have the resources of a caring family.”
Cincore–Templeton sees this work as a community partnership. In addition to its partnership with schools, each year more than 700 foster youth and their foster families attend the organization’s “Christmas in November” celebration, which is fully funded by donations and provides entertainment, a beautiful meal and clothing and gifts to every foster youth in attendance.
“Foster youth tend to lose connections at school due to the disruptions in their lives,” said Cincore – Templeton. “By meeting them where they are, we preserve these connections and create a safe space in which they feel valued, noticed and understood.”
Though CYFC has been very successful in securing service contracts, there is still a need to help cover the full cost of delivering services and for the additional funds needed to provide the services, supports and resources that foster youth need to succeed such as laptops and money for SAT prep courses.
Cincore-Templeton hopes that this comprehensive approach empowers their youth to be their best selves.
“We want all are participants to know that they are seen, valued and cared for enough to set high expectations knowing that they have what it takes to meet and exceed them,” Cincore-Templeton said.
Name: Lydia Cincore-Templeton,
Title: Executive Director
Organization: Children Youth and Family Collaborative
Social Media: Facebook: Children Youth and Family Collaborative
Angela N. Parker