Thanks to a $10 million line item in the current state budget, East Valley Institute of Technology hopes to open a homestay teen residence on its downtown Mesa campus by school year 2023-24.
EVIT Superintendent Dr Chad Wilson said this is just the first step in changing the lives of young people in foster care by giving them not only a place to live, but also a place where they can learn a trade and get certified at the end of their life. of the system.
“We believe that by having these people in a safe living space…we’re starting to lean into being able to really change their lives,” he said in an interview.
Wilson said the school is still working on construction plans, but the residence hall would contain 64 beds and possibly eight shared living spaces similar to most modern college dorms.
Other ideas Wilson said they will consider include using current training and facility space to create amenities such as a grass field or basketball courts for after-school activities. .
“What we want to keep in mind is that we are funded by our taxpayers,” Wilson said.
While the state allowance will finance the construction, EVIT will have to pay for the operation of the residence.
EVIT is currently working with some fostering organizations, including Foster360 and Hope & A Future, but the school has yet to begin seeking residency partnerships.
Wilson, director of EVIT for four years, said his inspiration for the residency came from visiting a similar facility in Orange, California.
“It’s a space that we want these people to be able to live in, grow and thrive in – and come out of this with a better foundation to go out in our communities and be productive,” he said.
While participating in vocational and technical training programs on the EVIT campus, young homestay residents would rely on the Paul Revere Academy, an offshoot of Heritage Academy, for traditional high school classrooms on the same campus. The high charter will grant preferential placement to young hosts.
Wilson said it will allow students to earn a high school diploma, business certification, and/or dual-enrollment credits for community college.
“We believe that at EVIT, we are changing lives,” Wilson said. “That we change lives by loving our students and serving our communities.”
State officials reported that in fiscal year 2021-22, 841 older teens were released from the state’s foster care system.
EVIT’s program will help provide young adoptees with more stability, consistency and opportunity as they transition into adulthood, Wilson said.
In addition to enrolling in EVIT’s adult job training programs, students will receive social, emotional, and mental health support services and learn life skills such as financial planning and nutrition.
In 2021, EVIT launched a foster care program that allows youth preparing to leave foster care to complete an EVIT program while they complete their GED.
Wilson said some foster students are not in high school equivalency programs, but instead attend a traditional East Valley high school while also attending EVIT.
Wilson praised the work of the EVIT board in finding innovative ways to support the community.
Additionally, Wilson credited the work of State Representatives Steve Kaiser, Michelle Udall and Rusty Bowers for helping to allocate the funds.
“That anchor has allowed us to lean into a space that’s good for students, good for our communities, and good for the state,” Wilson said.