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Foster Youth Graduate from Innovative Workforce Academy

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Clarence Burton’s resume may be short – the 18-year-old is completing his first six-month job assignment with the County’s Workforce Academy for Youth program – but his skills are impressive. He is well-spoken, hard-working and enthusiastic, despite a life spent in and out of foster care and homeless shelters. He and 10 other foster youth will be honored at the program’s graduation ceremony Wednesday, April 16 at 3:30 pm at the County Administration Center in Room 302.

“I got this opportunity not because of who I was or what I have been through but because people believed in what I could be,” said Burton, who is the first of his seven siblings to graduate from high school.

The program began in 2006, providing six-month, paid internships in a variety of County departments to young people ages 17 to 21 who are about to “age out” of the foster care system. Participants are matched with a job coach in their assigned department, as well as a case manager and a life skills coach, a senior volunteer recruited from the community by the County’s Aging and Independence Services.

“It is important to help our foster youth transition from the dependency system to independent lives of their own, and this is an excellent way to make that happen, “said Board of Supervisors Chairman Greg Cox.

Burton has applied for a job at Polinsky Children’s Center, where he and many of his brothers and sisters have lived. He said it is one way he can give back, in addition to volunteering at the church where he was taken in by a pastor for several years. He is currently attending Mesa College and would like to transfer to UCSD or UCLA as a political science major.

The other interns are expected to be hired by the County as student workers or in permanent positions.

Burton and Workforce Academy for Youth program organizers will be available for interviews at the graduation ceremony.