July 17, 2020
In the State of West Virginia, there is a big need for foster families. Recruitment is done through ads playing on television stations, billboards along the interstate, and even signs in yards seeking foster parents. Many people when they hear the word foster parents typically think the role involves caring for infants, mainly children under the age of 12. We often forget about the teenagers placed into state custody and teenagers residing in residential group homes. Some of these teenagers are lucky and do get adopted after the age of 16, but those who do not eventually just age out of the foster care system or sign themselves out of state custody when they turn 18 years old. What happens to those that age out of the foster care system or sign out of state custody? Where do they go? How do they survive? Are they able to attend secondary education?
Recently while doing research on community support programs, I learned about a program called MODIFY. I spoke with Debbie Huff who is the program manager of the MODIFY Program.
The MODIFY Program is for youth who have either aged out of foster care while in DHHR’s custody, adopted after the age of 16, or placed in a legal guardianship after the age of 16. The goals of MODIFY are:
- To ensure that children who are likely to remain in foster care until 18 years old of age are provided education, training, financial support, and other needed transitioning services;
- To support and serve former foster care recipients between 18-23 years of age to complement their own self- sufficiency and to assure that program participants recognize and accept their personal responsibility similitude for preparing to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood; and
- To provide youth who exit foster care at 18 or older with Educational and Training Vouchers for the purpose of attending a post-secondary educational program. The funds may be used to cover the costs of attending college or vocational training including all expenses related to a course of study such as computers, special clothing, shoes or boots, books, housing, transportation and other related educational expenses. If the teen has a high school diploma, or GED, then he or she can get referred to MODIFY. The young adult needs to apply for FASFA to determine what available education funds would be available to them. MODIFY will help the young adult with getting into the college of their choosing or some type of certification program.
To get more information on the MODIFY program you can go to the website http://www.modify.cedwvu.org or contact:
Debbie Huff MSW, LSW MODIFY Program Manager
Wood County DHHR
400 5th Street
Parkersburg, WV 26101
304-420-2560 ext.: 70885
Debra.huff at hsc.wvu.edu