DA Vance Invests $3.75 Million to Support Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

Posted in: News

Posted on October 5, 2017

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the investment of $3,750,000 to enhance and expand innovative programs for youth who are transitioning out of the foster care system. The three-year grants awarded to The Door and Graham Windham are expected to serve approximately 500 New Yorkers ages 16- to 24-years-old each year. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is providing these grants through its Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (“CJII”), which District Attorney Vance created using criminal forfeiture funds obtained through the Office’s settlements with international banks for violating U.S. sanctions.

“Today’s investment offers a lifeline to hundreds of young people aging out of foster care by giving them access to the opportunities that all New Yorkers deserve,” said District Attorney Vance. “By providing educational and occupational pathways to success, as well as helping their participants find safe and secure housing, The Door and Graham Windham have proven to be transformational forces in the lives of young New Yorkers. Moreover, their dedicated staff and the safe spaces they provide are crucial to giving a sense of stability to these young people, whose childhoods may have been marked by constant changes – in teachers and schools, in adult figures, and in where they call home. When we invest in populations at increased risk of involvement in the criminal justice system, we enhance public safety for all New Yorkers.”

City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance (“CUNY ISLG”) Executive Director Michael P. Jacobson said: “Transitioning out of foster care is a moment that leaves young adults significantly exposed to the risk of becoming homeless or winding up in the criminal justice system. Today’s grants will provide urgently needed safeguards for those young people, helping them access education and career training and find housing, to ensure that they move into adulthood on the right foot.”

ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell said: “ACS is extremely pleased to partner with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the City University of New York on this exciting initiative that will help older youth in foster care advance their education, obtain employment, secure housing and transition to productive adulthood. Although most children in foster care return home to their families or are adopted, and we are reducing the number of young people who age out of the system, we are working hard to improve outcomes for older youth. This generous grant will go far to support these young people. We congratulate Graham Windham and The Door for winning these significant awards and look forward to supporting implementation of these important programs.”

Julie Shapiro, Executive Director of The Door, said: “The transition from teenager to adult can be difficult for any young person, but foster care youth face uniquely difficult challenges. District Attorney Vance recognizes that there is a serious, yet bridgeable, gap in essential foster care youth services during this stage of life. The $1.88 million in CJII funding makes it possible to expand our successful, evidence-based program, and to achieve the goal of reducing foster youths’ risk of involvement in the criminal justice system and other negative life outcomes. With CJII funding, The Door will bring our Academy program, currently located in the Bronx, to Manhattan; it combines education, workforce, and supportive services tailored to the needs of foster care youth. The CJII funding incorporates a new, key element to this model – housing services. All of the services supported by the CJII funding will create the strong support network that most foster youth lack.  With it, they will get the shot at success they deserve, so that they become self-sufficient and thriving adults.”

Jess Dannhauser, President and CEO of Graham Windham, said: “Young people in foster care are exceedingly capable but often hit stumbling blocks that impede their path to success. When they trip up, it is easy to believe that they cannot succeed. At Graham we have learned that when our young people receive consistent support and access to opportunity, they thrive. District Attorney Vance has made a commitment to provide the resources and enduring support these young people need to make their dreams and aspirations a reality. He is investing to make sure caring and committed professionals are there to help our kids dust themselves off and keep going as they learn how to hurdle the stumbling blocks of life. He is helping to build persistence and determination in our young people which leads to their success. We are inspired by today’s announcement and deeply grateful for DA Vance’s investment in our Graham SLAM program, which has 52 kids in college today. His profound belief in our young people will make a life-changing difference in hundreds more young lives.”

Youth Aging Out of Foster Care 

Recognizing that investments in remedial education and pathways to employment best equip this population to transition out of care, District Attorney Vance awarded three-year grants totaling $3,750,000 to the following two organizations, which are expected to serve approximately 500 young New Yorkers who are about to transition, or have recently transitioned, from foster care each year:

  • The Door 
    • Award: $1,875,000
    • Services and Programming: Academic and career services; work readiness and occupational skills training, including career advancement coaches and job placement specialists; individualized case management; housing placement.
  • Graham Windham
    • Award: $1,875,000
    • Services and Programming: Individualized case management; permanency and family-finding services; peer support groups and mentoring; mental health treatment; targeted employment and educational support; housing placement.

District Attorney Vance previously awarded The Door a $6.5 million grant to create one of five Youth Opportunity Hubs, a first-of-its-kind effort to knit together community-based providers and build new physical spaces for young people in target Manhattan neighborhoods.

CJII Research and Consultation Process

Today’s awards follow an open-solicitation, Request for Proposals and review process led by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and facilitated by the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG), CJII’s technical assistance provider. Representatives from New York City agencies, including the Administration for Children’s Services, and foundations including the Redlich Horwitz Foundation and Casey Family Programs, participated in the review committee and provided expert feedback.

The CJII plan and investments are the result of an extensive process incorporating research, data analysis, and outreach to community leaders and stakeholders conducted by CUNY ISLG. As the technical assistance provider, ISLG analyzed research in areas affecting public safety in New York City, including systemic factors at the neighborhood level that have an impact on crime, and data from a number of agencies involved in the criminal justice system. In addition, ISLG conducted extensive interviews with more than 250 experts in the criminal justice community and related fields, including clinical practitioners; leaders from philanthropic, non-profit, and grassroots organizations; representatives of local, state, and federal government agencies; academics; and elected officials. Following this process, ISLG worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to develop a comprehensive set of investments that, together, will have a significant, lasting impact on public safety and justice reform in New York City. ISLG will provide program oversight and performance measurement to grantees selected under CJII.

Investments in Pre-Arraignment Diversion, Alternatives to Incarceration, and Reentry Programming

In June, District Attorney Vance awarded $6.5 million in grants to divert first time, low-level offenders from the justice system. He previously invested $7.3 million to pay for college programming at New York State prisons; and $600,000 to fund “Project Reset,” a county-wide pre-arraignment diversion program for 16- and 17-year-olds arrested for low-level crimes.

In March, District Attorney Vance announced funding to create innovative programming and support existing services for New Yorkers reentering communities after periods of incarceration ($15 million), and to create a blueprint for a new Manhattan Criminal Court Resource Center to offer services and alternatives to jail for low-level offenders, ranging from meaningful community service to mental health programming. Last fall, District Attorney Vance announced funding to develop an abusive partner intervention program ($1.4 million), and develop social enterprises to train and employ formerly incarcerated and at-risk New Yorkers ($7.3 million).

Investments in Access to Victims Services and Youth and Family Programming 

In April, District Attorney Vance announced the investment of $11.8 million in services for historically underserved victims of crime, including: people of color; immigrants and non-native English speakers; LGBTQ individuals; and individuals who are D/deaf or hard of hearing. In February, he invested $45.9 million to create and construct “Youth Opportunity Hubs” to knit together community-based providers and build new spaces for young people; as well as $12 million to enhance family and youth development programming. This funding followed earlier investments of $1.5 million for a pilot network of community navigators to guide at-risk individuals to appropriate services and programs; and $7.5 million to expand Saturday Night Lights, the District Attorney’s Office’s signature youth violence prevention initiative operating in 14 locations across Manhattan.

Earlier Transformative Investments

Other transformative investments previously announced by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office include: $90 million to equip the NYPD with tablets, handheld devices, and mobile databases for every police officer and patrol car; $101 million for critical NYCHA security upgrades, including cameras, lighting, and keyless access; $38 million to help end the national backlog of untested rape kits; $40 million towards the City’s comprehensive mental health initiatives, including $14 million for supervised release for eligible defendants pre-trial; and $25 million to form the cross-border, cross-sector, not-for-profit Global Cyber Alliance.

Additional CJII funding opportunities will be announced in the coming months.

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