The majority of older youth in foster care those who emancipate at 21 are unemployed. Youth who age out and are unemployed are more likely to be homeless and struggle in the years after emancipation. It is important that you start planning and working toward your career goals while you are in high school. There are things that you can do while you are in high school to prepare such as having an after-school job, participating in the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP) volunteering, participating in afterschool programming or shadowing an adult in a career field that interests you. Some high schools even have internship programs where students are placed in private businesses, government agencies or non-profits for a certain number of hours a week.
After you receive your high school diploma (or GED) it is essential that you enroll in a post-secondary educational program (2 or 4 year college) or enter a vocational training or career certification program. Nearly all jobs that pay more than minimum wage require post-secondary education and training. There are even jobs that pay minimum wage that required this additional education or training. Do not limit yourself when it comes to pursuing a career field. This is the time to try things out—you can always change career paths. The information in this section relates to employment rights and information specifically for youth in foster care. For more general employment information and resources please see our Employment section (link to Employment).
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Making sure that you get good grades in school and graduate high school is extremely important to your success after exiting care. Graduating from high school is the foundation for building a future and selecting a career. It is also important that you enter some type of post-secondary educational or vocational program after high school. Nearly all jobs that pay more than minimum wage require post-secondary education and training. It is vital that you attend a high school that meets your needs and that you receive the needed support to make good grades and excel with your school work. CFSA has programs, services and staff-teams to support your educational success and you must take advantage of these resources. Your social worker and GAL will help you with enrolling a high quality high school (and college/vocational training program), selecting classes, completing your community service hours and getting tutoring and mentoring to improve your grades and prepare for standardized testing. Included below are educational rights and polices that are specific to you in DC foster care.
YOUR EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS
- You have the right to receive a free public education if you are of school age (3-20)
- You have the right to stay in the school you attended when you entered care unless it is against your best interest
- You have the right to receive post-secondary education, job readiness and vocational training support
- You have the right to participate in extracurricular and recreational activities (sports, clubs, arts, etc.) and receive educational support that is appropriate with your age and developmental level.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW IF YOU ARE IN: