Adams rolls out vocational training program for foster care youth

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Mayor Eric Adams with Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner Jess Dannhauser announcing new V-CRED vocatiional and apprenticeship program at CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College. March 29, 2022.
Screenshot By Ethan Stark-Miller

Continuing his role out of initiatives to jumpstart the city’s economy coming out of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday a new vocational and apprenticeship program for youth 16 to 24 living or coming out of foster care.

“For those young people who have been in foster care or had contact with the juvenile justice system, instead of leaving them there, we need to be there for them to give them the support,” Adams said. “This new vocational training and apprenticeship program is going to help our young people prepare for good jobs and a bright future. These programs are crucial because you can start out with a good job, a good career, and then it’s a pathway to what you want to do.”

The new program – called V-CRED – will be a partnership between the city, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the City University of New York (CUNY) and the private sector. The event took place on the campus of CUNY’s Kingsborough Community College, where Adams was joined by CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner Jess Dannhauser and two young people who’ve already been through the program.

Echoing a comment Adams made earlier about the importance of “upstream” – or preemptive – solutions, Dannhauser said that includes supporting and sticking with the city’s youth.

“Upstream also includes sticking with our young people. when we’re in a relationship with young people,” Dannhauser said. “We want to do right by them and make sure we don’t drop them at the most important parts of their life.”

The program will start with 45 participants for each of its first two years who will take trades courses at Kingsborough, Adams said. These classes will train them for professional certification, all with the goal of landing them a job in one year.

The program has five vocational tracts: information technology, electrician’s helper, certified nursing Assistant and EKG Technician, pharmacy technician, and building trades.

“All of the new growth you’re seeing in the IT industry in the city, these young people can move into those employment opportunities,” Adams said. “And we need the new tech industry to come to our campuses and see the young people we have here. Don’t recruit outside our city when you have great homegrown product right here in the city of New York.”

Antoinette McKnight, one of the students who just finished the program, just became a certified medical technician and will now study to become a paramedic. McKnight said the program has been vital to achieving her dream of becoming an FDNY paramedic, something she’s wanted since she was a little girl.

“Without this program I don’t see how it would be possible ,as of right now, because I’m in foster care and I just left the system, so I’m on my own,” McKnight said. “So, it’s bettering my future.”

The program, Dannhauser said, is funded by a Kellogg Foundation grant that breaks down to $200,000 each year for the next three years. But, Adams said his administration intends to increase funds for the program in the next budget cycle.