Teens learn job skills

Teens try to untangle a human knot as part of an exercise to teach teamwork and problem-solving skills at a Carolina Youth Development Center job readiness training program. It aims to helps at-risk youth learn skills to prepare them for the workforce and place them in paid internships with local businesses. Jack Evans/Staff

Children who age out of foster care in South Carolina soon will have a new place to transition into adulthood on the campus of Carolina Youth Development Center.

CYDC, a nonprofit that houses foster children and serves other vulnerable youth, announced plans to open an independent living transitional home in a house on its North Charleston campus. Officials expect renovations to begin later this month and be completed in the spring.

The transitional home, the first of its kind in the area, will house up to eight foster youth at a time ages 18 to 20 years old to provide them a reliable but independent place to live while learning life and job skills from professional staff. In South Carolina, youth can choose to stay in foster care until they turn 21.

More than 4,200 children in South Carolina are in foster care, and many will begin adulthood without permanent families while grappling with the scars of neglect and abuse. The independent living house aims to address the increased risks they face of becoming homeless, unemployed and incarcerated.

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“They face hardships at higher rates than their peers,” so the transitional living house will offer “a pioneering approach” to providing skills, said Leon Stungurys, components service director at Cummins Inc. and a CYDC board member.

Cummins, one of CYDC's longtime partners, is donating $120,000 to pay for the renovation, officials announced at the nonprofit’s annual gala last week.

CYDC has raised about $150,000 so far to renovate a now-vacant house on its campus. The Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation, which supports initiatives that benefit child welfare and youth arts, announced earlier this year that it was donating $10,000 toward the project. Guitarist Mark Bryan said last week that CYDC is doing “some of the most important work in the state.”

Contact Jennifer Hawes at (843) 937-5563 or follow her on Twitter @jenberryhawes.