February 19, 2008
Foster youth transitioning out of Georgia's foster care system can benefit financially from a new savings plan specifically design for foster teens. Those who participate will be able to get their money matched dollar-for-dollar up to $1,000 through a savings program offered by Georgia's Department of Human Resources' Independent Living Program (ILP). This program is one of many offered by the Independent Living Program to help foster youth achieve independence and transition more successfully into adulthood.
Foster youth can use the savings accounts, known as Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), to pay for college courses, buy a car, start a business, make a deposit on an apartment or a house, pay for insurance, or any other everyday necessity. The IDA program is expected to match 100 foster teens' savings accounts a year with $110,000 allocated over the next three years. Foster youth ages 14-21 can participate. The program is a collaborative public-private partnership with DHR, Catalyst for CARE, which will administer the program, and banking institutions statewide.
"This is just one more way Georgia is empowering children in foster care to achieve self-sufficiency and we're confident that the practicality of this program will prove to be a strong model and success for foster children," said Mary Dean Harvey, director of the Division of Family and Children Services.
In addition to the savings component, the program requires that youth develop a deeper understanding of financial issues, maintain working budgets, and establish relationships with mainstream financial institutions. Those who join must attend financial literacy classes. At the completion of the financial courses, they can then open an IDA and will receive a $100 incentive to start saving, which is deposited directly into their accounts. They receive matching funds for each dollar they deposit into their accounts, up to $1,000 annually.
The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, a national effort to help young people make successful transitions from foster care to adulthood, introduced IDAs to Georgia foster youth in 2004 through a pilot program called the Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Opportunities Initiative (MAYOI). From 2004-2007, more than 250 foster teens participated in MAYOI's savings program and purchased more than $84,000 in assets. The IDA program became a component of DHR's Independent Living Program in January 2008.
The Independent Living Program provides a wide range of services in education, housing, employment, and health to foster youth transitioning out of state care. For more information on the Individual Development Account program, or on other programs and services provided by DHR's Independent Living Program call 1-888-884-4712 or email questions about the program to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information, contact:
Beverly Jones; 404.657.1387