A collaboration of the University of Illinois School of Social Work/Children and Family Research Center and Cunningham Children's Home, the research described in this report analyzes empirically the status of Cunningham's existing vocational programming for foster children and youth. Data reported here primarily come from a survey of 58 Cunningham clients, supplemented by focus group data from a smaller group of Cunningham clients and information on occupational interest from a commercial computer-based career planning program (Career Cruising) used by Cunningham youth. Initially, researchers also planned to develop a supported education/employment pilot model designed to serve the specific population of foster children and youth. However, findings from the research suggest the need for a structure and curriculum more compatible with currently accepted models in community mental health and adult education than with the resources and supports available in a largely residential program like Cunningham. This represents a significant barrier to quick implementation of supported education/employment for the foster population, and so development of the pilot model has been deferred. Meanwhile, the authors have incorporated findings from this study into the Children and Family Research Center's ongoing research agenda on transitioning foster youth, expecting these results will continue to inform both research and practice supporting the progress of these young people toward successful adulthood.

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