Ventura, CA - June marks National Youth Awareness Month – a national campaign highlighting the importance of youth, the imprint that they leave on this world and the value of investing in younger generations for a greater cause.
PathPoint, is proud to provide services for an underserved population of adolescent youth in Ventura County through the program Youth Networked Services.
Youth Networked Services provides a unique program available for individuals ages 16-24. Many of these young individuals have faced extreme hardships or challenges in life.
To qualify for the services, these individuals need to be eligible for low income status and be considered "at-risk" meaning many are foster children, emancipated minors, high school drop outs or on probation. These participants each have a learning disability of some kind and through PathPoint services, are able to acquire skills needed for true independence.
Kim Whitaker, Director of Program Services in Ventura shared that Youth Networked Services is a unique program allowing these young people to gain employment, take classes that equip them with support and receive training on studying for the GED and applying to college. For many of these individuals higher education seems unobtainable - but because of the yearlong support of Youth Networked Services, many individuals acquire permanent employment - and some have even reached out later on in life sharing of their career success and educational achievements.
Kim shared "It gives at-risk-youth an opportunity and provides them with services that aren't always available in school." She continued saying "When someone says - 'you can do this and we can help you do this' things change. Everybody deserves that kind of support - Youth Networked Services provides that."
Nicole came to PathPoint's Youth Networked Services when she was 17 years old. When the youth specialist was referred to her case, she found a bright young girl who had become a high school drop-out and was living in a halfway house. Nicole had come from an unstable home life and because of her family’s frequent moves, she had been to 5 different high schools. She was 25 credits short of receiving her high school diploma but didn’t have the support at home to help guide her to re-enrolling and graduating.
Nicole was enrolled into YNS to provide her support, guidance and encouragement to reach her educational and career goals. Upon enrolling into the program she was able to go back to high school and finish her diploma. She achieved this goal within one semester. During her time in YNS, Nicole also completed an internship a local employer so she could gain work experience and save some money. Once she graduated with her diploma she enrolled into the local community college for a year. After a year of attending college she decided to pursue a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Her youth specialist assisted Nicole with enrolling into a local CNA program and YNS helped assist in this process.
Nicole went on to finish her internship with the local employer and was offered a permanent job there. In addition, she completed her CNA and went on to work for an in-home care agency taking care of the sick and elderly. Nicole has continued working as a CNA for the past 6 months and loves her line of work. She says: “PathPoint helped me so much. In order for the program to work, you’ve got to ask for a lot of help and put in your own effort and then you get opportunities. If you put in the work to reach your goals, YNS will get you the help that you need!”