In 2019, The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) launched an automated referral system (ARS) to support child welfare workers with referring youth to public workforce services, following advocacy efforts by the L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative (LA OYC). However, after two years of implementation, ARS foster youth referrals remained low.
To identify challenges in the enrollment completion continuum and develop improvements to the ARS system, LA OYC, co-convened by UNITE-LA and the Alliance for Children's Rights, commissioned a case study to understand youths' experiences being referred to and accessing workforce programming. While the case study will be officially published in 2024, UNITE-LA advanced the recommendations this year via learning calls with foster youth liaisons at two dozen workforce centers. We also worked with DEO to update guidance to workforce centers on the use of text messaging with youth and engaging supportive adults to complete a referral.