Every year around 28,000 youth age out or are otherwise emancipated from foster care in the US. These young adults, many of whom grew up in the “system” are coming of age in foster care and deserve all the advantages of young adults raised in family homes. Since it is us — all of us: Citizens, Government, Providers — who comprise the “system” we must ask ourselves “How well we are preparing these youth for the challenges of adulthood?” Unfortunately, in many cases the answer is “not well enough”.
Key among a host of issues are access to important records and knowledge of basic living skills — budgeting, job search and how to find and apply to the right school. In most homes, parents have a file or other safe place for permanent storage of important family records and memorabilia. Parents and relatives use their knowledge to coach children on job skills, interviewing, the education system, or other elements of the “real world” they are entering. If a child needs a copy of a birth certificate for work, high school transcripts for a college application ,or important medical records for a new doctor they are readily available. However, the same cannot be said for many youth in foster care. The unfortunate reality is many do not have access to these critical documents or resources—they are misplaced or lost in multiple moves, or may not be permanently filed by foster parents or workers.
Recent surveys shed light on the problem and reveal negative outcomes. Young adults in or exiting foster care are twice as likely to not receive a high school diploma or to be unemployed than the average; 40% are likely to encounter the criminal justice system by age 23 — compared to 30% of youth in general; only 27% have a birth certificate; and a mere 15% have a driver’s license by age 18. We can do better.
My JumpVault is a youth-envisioned solution. It was designed under the leadership of a group of young adults in the Florida foster care system, and developed by Five Points. These young adults identified barriers to independence and advised the My JumpVault Team of the lack of access to resources and necessary documents they needed to advance from foster care into an independent adulthood. Further, the youth expressed a great desire to have a place to call their “own”—a system to securely house all their important personal items. And they wanted it to be current and fun to use.
Five Points worked closely with foster youth to design and develop My JumpVault, because there was a need for it. Too many youth leaving care have no record of their history, or the documents they need to support independence. We designed My JumpVault specifically to put foster youth in control of their own care—empowering them to make informed decisions about their future.
The system addresses the “whole person” by providing and storing information across the many dimensions needed for a successful transition to adulthood including medical, employment, education, rights, and finances. And youth can access it from a smartphone or tablet from anywhere that provides Internet capability.
My JumpVault provides simple web-based access to a secure “electronic file cabinet” to keep all the foster youth’s important records and memories safely in one place, but accessible securely from anywhere. My JumpVault not only provides a secure place for the youth to store personal information, it also a platform to integrate state, local and private data sources specific to a single youth’s record. Additionally, by successfully supporting and shortening the transition to independence, My JumpVault provides a valuable return on investment (ROI).
My JumpVault provides valuable resources for foster youth to use to help them succeed. From tips on resume writing and budgeting to advice on job interviews or independent housing; My JumpVault empowers the foster youth.It provides context-aware access to valuable resources within each major section: employment, housing, education personal finance, etc. In addition to general knowledge created by industry specialists, which is pre-loaded on the site, each jurisdiction can easily add content and links specific to location.
The name My JumpVault originated from the youths’ significant and valid concern over privacy and security—which led to the “vault” concept. Additional measures are implemented within the system infrastructure to provide additional security for highly confidential records. Our secure data warehouse from which My JumpVault is maintained uses the same level of security used by financial institutions and the Federal Government.