Financial Training is a Big Payoff for Foster Care Youth
The Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative (MYOI) is a program that works to ensure that young people in foster care have successful outcomes in housing, education, employment, community engagement, and health.
Through an Individual Development Account (IDA), youth are required to save money toward these outcomes every month. In fact, the IDA works much better than a normal savings account. MYOI matches funds, dollar-to-dollar, up to $1,000 per year for a youth to purchase an asset, such as renting their first apartment, buying a car, funding education, and more.Money is then given as a stipend and earned through participation in MYOI events and meetings.
In Ingham County, one way youth can earn money is through MYOI’s partnership with MSUFCU. Not only do participants have accounts, including their IDAs, at the Credit Union, they also take part in financial literacy trainings through MSUFCU’s education outreach program. These trainings generally happen every quarter and cover topics such as basic banking, budgeting, understanding credit, and protecting accounts.
“The opportunities MSUFCU has provided to the foster care youth in Ingham County has been a priceless asset. MSUFCU has opened a door for these young adults by providing them with a safe and secure way of banking,” said Nichole Martin, Ingham County MYOI Coordinator. “Financial literacy training, through MSUFCU, has not only taught our youth the importance of tracking their money and how to protect their own identity, but has provided them with the truly invaluable ability to create long lasting relationships with a financial institution.”
Martin directs the MYOI program out of the Department of Human Services (DHS) building on South Cedar Street in Lansing. Her location has allowed a neighborly connection to the South Lansing Branch, 200 E. Jolly Road, which is right around the corner from DHS. Taking trips from the DHS building to the branch has provided the program’s participants with the important skills of setting up accounts, maintaining those accounts, and establishing connections with positive adults inside the branch.
“Youth who grow up in the foster care system are a particularly vulnerable group. They can lack the ability to make and maintain healthy relationships with peers and positive adults. As adolescents in the foster care system, youth struggle to be held accountable on a routine and consistent basis and are often left to navigate the waters of adulthood virtually alone,” Martin said. “The banking partnership between Ingham County MYOI and MSUFCU has provided an opportunity for youth to learn how to appropriately bank, maintain bills, learn social skills, and purchase assets. During the last 18 months, in partnership with MSUFCU, the youth of Ingham County MYOI have opened over 120 savings accounts and saved more than $5,000 as a group. Through the ability to save, youth have been able to pay first months' rent and security payments, purchase computers, go on educational trips across the country, and purchase car insurance. MSUFCU has created an opportunity for young adults in the foster care system to see their dreams become realities.”
And it’s for those reasons the Credit Union is so passionate about this program; it’s truly about helping MYOI’s youth identify, take the proper steps, and achieve their financial goals.
Later this month, MSUFCU is partnering again with Martin and Ingham County MYOI to put on a Community Awareness and Prevention Event, which coincides with National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This event, held at the Eagle Eye Banquet Center, 15500 Chandler Road in Bath, will take place on Friday, March 21. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and admission is a donation of a new standard-sized pillow, pillow case, or $10 at the door. The keynote speaker is John Borgstedt, a motivational speaker on the topics of abuse and neglect. If you are interested in attending this event, please contact Nichole Martin, Ingham County MYOI Coordinator, at 517-515-8602 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. RSVP by March 14 for guaranteed seating.
“This event is relevant to our county because the success of youth in foster care plays a huge role on the impact of our community. There are many ways to get involved. Sometimes knowing where to start can be daunting. Perhaps you are limited on time to help, but there are things that can be done with very little time. Do you have to fulfill a volunteering requirement for a club or an organization; we can help you do that,” Martin said. “The phrase, ‘It takes a village,’ is well known, but how often is the village invited to come to the table to talk? How often do we talk in a proactive way as opposed to a reactive one? This event will open minds, start conversations, get people involved in ways they are comfortable and in the end, work to empower and support our Ingham County youth growing up in the foster care system.”