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LSS Youth Education & Employment Initiative

LSS of Northern California redesigned our youth supportive housing program to provide the transition age youth we serve with the strongest foundation possible for future success. Stable housing with independent living skills services – the typical service model – is insufficient. The LSS Youth Education and Employment Initiative places a greater emphasis on services that increase educational completion and attainment of living-wage employment leading to lifetime self-sufficiency. The initial program redesign is ready to be piloted in Sacramento, where LSS provides housing and services for approximately 100 youth at any given time, and in Stockton, where we serve approximately 50 youth. 

The program redesign provides a comprehensive, evidence-based approach utilizing current best practices and adopts elements of successful youth programs across the U.S. The program uses evidence-informed interventions and addresses the social determinants of health to increase resilience and develop human capital: providing connections to caring adults, addressing mental health needs, strengthening family, developing life-skills, promoting educational attainment, career exploration, and job training and employment.

We have developed a comprehensive conceptual framework for program redesign which includes:

  • Train: Staff and clients in the new model. During an 8-week training academy, teach staff the skills necessary to implement this model within a framework of social justice. Teach clients about new services provided, expectations and supports offered, initiate continuous feedback on the new model.
  • Social Determinates of Health: Create self-paced learning modules designed to build skills necessary to address the social determinants of health. Clients will work one paid shift a week to work on the modules.  Receiving payment for this work serves as both an incentive and acknowledgement of the importance of working on the building blocks of success.
  • Data Driven Services: Progress through the program will be tracked, measuring both client attainment of skills, and staff support for clients, using Efforts to Outcomes software. Our goal is to design a program which is data driven, making changes to programming if the data does not support client success.
  • Expansion: of our social enterprise, A Novel Idea, to provide meaningful work experience to youth and generate revenue to support the program redesign.
  • Replicate: A Novel Idea in other regions where we have programs.
  • Explore: Development of other Social Enterprise businesses which are responsive to the community needs.
  • Aftercare: Youth will benefit from up to two years of supportive housing services and two years of follow-up care. Aftercare will include opportunities for mentorship to participants in the program and opportunities for these youth who have lived experience to be employed by LSS.

The goal of LSS and our partners who serve youth in Sacramento and Stockton is to end youth homelessness within 10 years.  We will do this by creating a flow for our youth who enter our housing programs to ensure that that within two years they have developed the skills to exit our housing program that will then serve as a foundation for the rest of their life – and open a slot for the next youth to enter. The innovations in our program redesign are targeted to achieve the following long-term outcomes:

  • Maintain stable housing;
  • Maintain permanent connections with caring adults, family, friends, community;
  • Attain a higher level of education (e.g., AA degree, trade school) than if they were not in the program; and
  • Six months of continuous employment after leaving the program, on track to obtain a living wage job within five years (based on education goals).

Our initiative has been supported by Foundations throughout our region: Walter S Johnson invited us to apply for a 2-year implementation grant of $200K.  Del E. Webb committed $50K to purchase Efforts to Outcomes software.  Anthem committed $15K to be used to purchase a vehicle for the Stockton business, and another $20K for youth supports. The San Joaquin Kaiser foundation invited us to apply for funding to support this program and John Burton Advocates for Youth committed to assisting us in finding new sources of funding.

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