New Leaders Join Jim Casey Initiative in Iowa
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative® — which focuses on older youth in foster care as they prepare for adulthood — announces new partners to lead its Iowa site.
The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families (EKDC) at Des Moines Area Community College are helming the Initiative’s support of Iowa’s older youth who have spent time in foster care. This work includes:
- partnering with youth and young adults on policy and practice changes;
- teaching financial literacy; and
- ensuring access to the services, relationships and opportunities youth need to be healthy and safe.
Since 2004, the Jim Casey Initiative’s Iowa site has mainly focused on young people in Des Moines and nearby counties. The new leadership team aims to expand services to young people in the state’s rural and urban communities.
Collaborating to Strengthen Families in Iowa
Kayla Powell, national youth in transition database and youth development coordinator at Iowa HHS, has been a Jim Casey Fellow since 2015. She will serve as the Iowa site’s co-leader and is the first Jim Casey Fellow to do so.
Powell will share leadership duties with Robert Bibens, an Opportunity Passport® program coach at EKDC, an organization that provides career resources and job training to Central Iowa residents.
“The Iowa partnership combines the resources of a government agency and a community nonprofit organization already known for strengthening families,” says Catherine Lester, associate director of the Casey Foundation’s Family Well-Being Strategy Group. “We are eager to see how this collaboration will build on past successes and multiply efforts to ensure that young people in Iowa who have spent time in foster care have the relationships, services and opportunities needed to thrive.”
Supporting Older Iowa Youth in Foster Care
In 2021, 42% of the older youth who exited foster care in Iowa aged out without permanent, legal connections to family or caregivers, according to state data from the Casey Foundation’s Fostering Youth Transitions 2023 report.
By expanding services, the site leaders hope to increase the number of young people in Iowa’s foster care system who enter adulthood with the resources and relationships they need to succeed.