The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

City College counselor helps foster kids find homes

In the face of dramatic cuts to California’s child welfare services, City College counselor Dave Morley is advocating for foster kids with no place to go.

“This project will give our kids a chance to succeed in their lives,” said Morley, academic counselor for the Extended Opportunity Program at City College and board chair of the YMCA youth and family services. “As a counselor at EOPS I’ve seen a lot of students in very difficult situations,” he said. “‘My Home’ will give them another chance and a fresh start.”

Foster children of the U.S. are dropped from the system when they reach the age of 18, and large numbers end up on the streets and without a place to live. According to the website of Human Rights Watch,, 20 percent of the 4,000 kids that come out of the system each year become homeless.

The Santa Barbara Housing Authority, along with the Youth and Family Services from the Channel Islands YMCA division, have come up with a solution. Artisan Court, a federally funded housing program located at 422 Cota St. will provide 55 fully furnished and affordable studio apartments to those who need continued help.

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“Both [Noah’s Anchorage and the Isla Vista Teen Center] are very aware and sensitive to the challenges of being a foster youth,” Morley said. “Therefore, housing and counseling services are provided 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to prevent our youth from homelessness.”

These institutions are the only foster youth housing programs in between the cities of Los Angeles and Monterey. Noah’s Anchorage in Santa Barbara is for children ages 10 to 17, and the Isla Vista Teen Center is open for children ages 6 to 12.

The new tenants were expected to move into their homes on March 31, followed by an open-house event on April 7. The tenants of Artisan Court from the YMCA program, young students between the ages of 18 and 21, named their 15 designated units “My Home.”

“At ‘My Home’ former foster youth will not only have access to a subsidized apartment,” said Mark Watson, associate executive director of the YMCA youth and family services. “They will also get case management, counseling, life skills and personal finance workshops, job skills assistance, and income supplements while they’re getting settled, getting into school, and finding a job.”

Since the anchorage and the teen center services are not permanent, Watson, Morley and Lynn Karlson, executive director of YMCA youth and family services, expressed their hopes that “My Home” will change the lives of foster children once they reach the age of 18.

“When a child shelters and receives the kind of resources offered at [the anchorage and the teen center], they are less likely to end up on the streets,” Watson said, “and more likely to go back into safe and stable homes because they’ve seen the advantages of living in a positive environment. It’s hard to see how our own foster youth end up homeless because we can’t provide our support any longer.”

To get a spot in the “My Home” program, the 30+ interested filled out applications and were interviewed by staff from Noah’s Anchorage. They then selected the 15 students they felt had the greatest needs.

“Seeing young people in our community on the streets because they’ve been kicked out of the foster care system is devastating,” added Karlson. “‘My Home’ will be a second chance for our youth to get stabilized, to begin working and going to school, and to launch both their adulthood and their independence.”

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