Initiative Aims to Transform Closing Naval Base into Career College for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

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Nonprofit child welfare leader KVC Health Systems is spearheading a broadly-supported initiative to transform the closing Sugar Grove naval base in Pendleton County, West Va. into a national model for helping a vulnerable population while saving and creating jobs.

National Crisis - More Youth Aging Out of Foster Care - KVC Health Systems

"We think this facility and this area is a perfect fit for KVC Health Systems. They are proven, there is a need for this type of program and Sugar Grove is the perfect facility.” - Pendleton Co. Economic & Development Authority

KVC Health Systems, the private, nonprofit organization with the nation’s longest track record of providing foster care case management services, is leading a broadly-supported initiative to transform the closing Sugar Grove naval base in Pendleton County, West Va. into a specialized career college for youth aging out of foster care. If the proposal comes to fruition, the ensuing Sugar Grove College could become a new national model for how to help a vulnerable population while saving and creating jobs in the region, including an emphasis on employing military veterans.

National Crisis - Youth Aging out of Foster Care - KVCThe initiative is the result of a national crisis meeting a unique opportunity. Nationally, more than 30,000 youth age out of foster care each year with no permanent family or home. These youth are up to six times more likely to experience homelessness, unemployment, unplanned pregnancies and incarceration. Government and communities bear the $5.7 billion annual cost of this unsolved problem.

The Sugar Grove naval base closure date is set for Sept. 2015. Currently, the region is at risk of losing a major source of economic investment. Federal officials are seeking a plan that can use the 122-acre property to deliver both public benefit and economic impact. KVC has been working with stakeholders for the last two years to develop a comprehensive plan which seeks to address a national social crisis while considering local, state and federal issues.

KVC is an international leader in child welfare systems and has demonstrated success at solving tough problems. The organization is the largest child placing agency in the state of West Virginia and has partnered with public child welfare agencies from Kansas to Washington, D.C. to achieve dramatic improvements such as reducing the length of time children are in foster care, increasing adoptions, encouraging relatives to care for children and keeping siblings together.

KVC envisions transitioning the naval base into Sugar Grove College, a specialized college that will help youth transition from foster care to a successful, self-sufficient adulthood. This will be achieved by providing vocational training in high-demand fields alongside supports like healthcare and mentoring. Initial programs offered will include fire sciences/firefighter certificate, medical coding, computer information systems, construction technology, and building and property maintenance.

A wide range of national players have expressed their support for KVC’s proposal including, at the national level, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago; at the state and local level, the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, the Pendleton County Economic and Community Development Authority, and the Pendleton County Commission; as well as public child welfare leaders, youth formerly in foster care and potential employers of graduates from the career college.

“The Pendleton County Economic and Development Authority has received proposals for continued use of the Sugar Grove Naval Facility and find the most desirable for Pendleton County is KVC Health Systems,” said William Hartman, Chairman. “The closure of this base will have a devastating effect on this county and KVC can fill that gap. We think this facility and this area is a perfect fit for KVC Health Systems. They are proven, there is a need for this type of program and Sugar Grove is the perfect facility.”

The Pendleton County Commission also weighed in, saying, “The KVC proposal is perfect for our area in that it promises to provide opportunity for our local citizens to acquire marketable job skills, while collaborating with existing training facilities as they extend their outreach.”

Gary Stangler, Executive Director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, said, “I support KVC’s interest in developing an academy for older youth transitioning from foster care. We believe in the concept of providing a college experience designed for this population.” He added, “KVC’s plans will be an important contribution to the success of young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood.”

Likewise, Bryan Samuels, Executive Director of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and former commissioner for the federal Administration on Children, Youth and Families, stated, “I support KVC Health Systems’ proposal to create a specialized career and technical college with a specific focus on youth aging out of the foster care system by repurposing the existing NIOC Sugar Grove Support Facility. I believe KVC is genuinely committed to making a smooth transition to the facility and for the region should they be selected through the Government’s process to acquire this property.”

More details of the Sugar Grove College plan will be available soon at http://www.kvc.org.

For questions, contact Marilyn Jacobson at (913) 322-4900 or mjacobson(at)kvc(dot)org.

About KVC Health Systems, Inc.
KVC Health Systems, headquartered in the greater Kansas City area, is a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 organization committed to enriching and enhancing the lives of children and families by providing medical and behavioral healthcare, social services, and education. KVC’s diverse continuum of services includes foster care, adoption, in-home family therapy, behavioral healthcare, and children’s psychiatric hospitals. In its 44-year history, KVC has grown since from a single Kansas home for boys to a national organization serving tens of thousands of children in five states. Due to KVC’s leadership in the use of evidence-based research to achieve better outcomes and advance child welfare, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has endorsed KVC as a best-practice organization. Learn more at http://www.kvc.org.

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Marilyn Jacobson
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