(from left to right) JLOSH Community VP Margaret Santana, JLOSH Assistant Community VP Robin Peacock, JLOSH member Sara Agress, JLOSH President Kat Eklund, JLMN member Lauren Pope Forbes, Essex County Family Court Judge Sallyanne Floria, JLMN member Patricia Devine Harms, JLOSH President-Elect Kate Lee, JLOSH member Kathy Mastriano and JLOSH member Patty Stern.
Junior League Offers Information Fair for Teens in Foster Care
Monday, July 25, 2011 • 3:39pm
The Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills (JLOSH) and the Junior League of Montclair-Newark, Inc. (JLMN), in partnership with the Child Advocacy Center at the Rutgers School of Law, the Essex County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and the Essex County Family Court, hosted an annual Information Fair for teens in foster care who are about to age out of the system on Thursday, July 14, 2011 at Rutgers University Law School in Newark.
150 students attended, along with their caseworkers, foster parents and CASA Advocates. 34 information exhibitors were on hand – more than double in recent years – including representatives from area colleges and technical schools, as well as local businesses and social service agencies, to provide educational and career advice. Attendees also learned about legal assistance, scholarships and other benefits available to them. And to make it fun, teens were eligible to win raffle prizes. Students who attended the most booths and gathered the most information were given two tickets instead of one. This is the fourth year that one or both Junior Leagues have partnered in the Information Fair.
Following the Information Fair, teens listened to a presentation on foster youths’ legal rights as they age out of the system given by Nana Wilson, Aging Out Coordinator, of the Rutgers Child Advocacy Center. The Center has hosted similar workshops for the past four years, and received rave reviews from both the youth and the Essex County Family Court officials. Representatives from Foster Club, a national network for young people in foster care, also organized a lively role-playing game called Independence City that presented teens with real-life problems, such as getting a job or renting an apartment, which they had to resolve.
Essex County has an astonishing number of children in out-of-home/foster care placement – almost 2,000 – amounting to 24% of all foster children in New Jersey, according to Advocates for Children in New Jersey’s “Kids Count 2010 County Profiles”. Many of these children are unaware of the various resources available to them as they get closer to “aging out” of the foster care system. The purpose of the Information Fair was to put these teens into contact with a variety of materials and people who can help them.
“Aging Out Seminars provide an opportunity for youth who are leaving the child welfare system to learn about community based organizations which offer support in the areas of education, employment, finance and social assistance,” said Superior Court Judge Sallyanne Floria. “Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the Junior League, over thirty local organizations participated in a successful event in Essex County.”
“We are thrilled to once again partner with the Junior League of Montclair-Newark, Rutgers Law, CASA, and the Essex County Family Court,” said Katherine Eklund, President of JLOSH. “The Information Fair has become a huge success year after year. We are so proud to be a part of this initiative to inspire teens in foster care to further their education and enhance their career choices.”
Maggie O’Connor, President of JLMN, said, “I am amazed at the power of collaboration between the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills and the Junior League of Montclair-Newark and how this event has dramatically increased over the past few years. Together we are working to provide incredibly useful resources to benefit our local youth coming out of the foster care system and hopefully, have a positive impact on the rest of their lives.”
JLOSH provides service to the communities of East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn, Orange, Short Hills, South Orange, and Springfield. Founded in 1913, JLOSH reaches out to women of all races, religions, and national origins. Its purpose is purely educational and charitable. To learn more about JLOSH, visit our website at www.jlosh.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Junior League of Montclair-Newark, Inc. is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. To learn more about the Junior League of Montclair-Newark, Inc., visit our website at www.jlmn.org or email us at email@example.com.