With all the stresses that can come with living life in foster care, part-time work may not be the first priority for a teen coping with myriad issues, even though the summer job experience is an important way to prepare for life beyond the system.
Georgia's Department of Human Resources has found a way to make it a little easier for kids in care to take advantage of their summer breaks through the TeenWork Initiative. Spearheaded by Mary Perdue-wife of Governor Sonny Perdue (R)- and her Children's Cabinet, about 600 youth in care participated in the initiative during summer 2005, working in a variety of entry-level jobs during June and July at Coca-Cola, Chick-Fil-A, Waffle House, and 35 state agencies, including the Governor's Office, the Department of Human Resources, the Department of Community Health, and the Department of Juvenile Justice. More teens and public and private companies were expected to participate in summer 2006.
"We've had a lot of positive experiences from it," says Ari Young, spokesperson for the Division of Family and Children Services, about the initiative. "For many of these children, it might be their first work experience, so we are mindful of that, and the companies we recruit are mindful of that as well."
The initiative is open to youth statewide, ages 16-21, who are in care or who may have recently left foster care but are still involved with the child welfare system. The teens receive minimum wage and higher for working at least four hours a day, five days a week, for six weeks. The teens also …