For young adults exiting the foster care system at age 18, finding work can be a difficult task.
Many of them come from challenging situations or they're lacking the support of a central family unit. And when they finally become legal adults, believe it or not, there isn't a single organization or service that helps them transition into their working years.
That's where United Neighborhood Centers of Milwaukee, or UNCOM, comes in. In its Transform Milwaukee Jobs Foster Care program, it specifically targets young adults, ages 18 to 21, who are having a hard time finding a job and helps them develop skills employers are looking for.
Counselors first help the young people work on "soft skills" — things like time management, clear communication and interviewing techniques.
The focus, according to Program Director Chee Thao, is building a trusting relationship with the client.
"If they don't have your trust, they're not going to talk to you."
After building a rapport, counselors work to place the young adults with partner employers, in both private and public sectors jobs.
"I want to make sure each and every young person who comes though our office has all the same opportunities than any other youth in the city," Thao said.
Right now, UNCOM is actively recruiting new young adults who are aging out of foster care and looking for work. If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more, you're encouraged to contact Program Support Specialist Julianne Frey at 414-290-2354 or email her at email@example.com.
Click the podcast player above to hear our interview with Thao and one of his clients, Dorthea Stewart.