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Program helps at-risk Placer County youth find success

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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A little more than a year ago, Nicholas Abbott was about to exit the foster care system, unmotivated and uncertain about his future. The 19-year-old Lincoln resident spent 13 years in the foster care system and says he was concerned about what options he had for his future when he was about to turn 18. Recently, a foster care case worker recommended Abbott contact PRIDE Industries in Roseville, and that decision, he says, changed his life. ?I got a job through PRIDE and a program that they offered,? Abbott said. ?I gained a full-time internship here for three months.? The program Abbott refers to is the Roseville-based company?s Youth Employment Services Program, which offers paid internships, job training and education for at-risk young adults in Placer County. The program began with a federal grant in July and has so far already seen one graduate. ?She was our first person to be enrolled and she just exited last week,? said Mindy Tubra, rehabilitative services manager for PRIDE Industries. ?She already had a job, but we helped her get a full-time job and make more money.? The program assists young adults between the ages of 17 and 21 who are out of school and facing barriers to employment, such as being a high school dropout, a foster child, fighting substance abuse or dealing with mental health problems. While PRIDE Industries is known for providing jobs for people with disabilities, the Youth Services Program is open to all young adults and not restricted to people with disabilities. Participants must also be residents of Placer County and meet certain income requirements. ?We help them with pre-vocational skills,? Tubra said. ?Our main areas that we focus on are employment, academics, certificates and literacy and numeracy gains.? The program can enroll up to 60 young adults, who sign a one-year contract that is renewable based on performance for up to three years. ?So far, I?m one month in and I?m loving it,? Abbott said. ?Before I got the job, I was always relying on somebody else to move on.? Tubra said the program offers benefits to foster youth who face significant barriers to getting and holding down a job, either because the have been in and out of foster homes or have deficiencies in their high school credits. ?A lot of them have not learned different life skills,? she said. ?They don?t know how to take care of themselves, either with hygiene, budgeting, different things like that.? The program can help participants complete their high school education or teach values and skills needed to find success in life, Tubra said. Abbott said while he may not have been too optimistic about his future when he was getting ready to exit the foster care system, he certainly wasn?t motivated either. That has all changed now. ?This job has given me motivation,? he said. ?And that in return has given me more confidence.? Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.