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How UNLV and MGM Resorts are putting former foster care youths on right track – Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada 2021-11-27 05:00:00 –


Brandon Perry (left) Director of HR Initiative at MGM Resorts International, Robert Ulmer (right) Dean of UNLV’s Greenspan University of Urban Studies supports job interview skills at Jorge Garcia (Center), a participant in the Foster Youth Initiative. increase. 2021. (Ronnie Timons III / UNLV Photo Service)

UNLV and one of the region’s largest employers are partnering with vocational training programs to help former foster parents overcome the long probabilities of their situation.

The MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute at UNLV’s Greenspan Urban Affairs College is behind the Foster Youth Initiative. The age at which many young people living in traditional homes are still in high school or live with their parents.

About 4,300 children are foster parents in Nevada. About 3,000 of them are in Clark County. Robert Ulmer, Dean of the Greenspun College, said this is a large group with little support but in need of it.

“The foster parent results are really challenging,” Ulmer said. “20% will be homeless by the age of 18, one-quarter will suffer from PTSD, or one-quarter will not graduate from high school, half will be unemployed by the age of 24, and only 3% will have a college degree. Get it. “

They help participants describe their life experiences as an asset and how to use their adaptability to design a stable adult life. Six young people will pass the first cohort this fall, with an additional 15-20 starting in January. Future groups have the potential to become groups that find employment in real estate at MGM Resorts International.

Robert Nailen learned about this initiative through a county social worker who helps older foster children move into adulthood.

Nailen, the eldest of five and graduated from Centennial High School, said her mother was too immature to become a parent and went in and out of the “system.” He was nearly 18 years old when he finally became a foster parent and chose to ride a foster parent instead of returning to his mother.

He is now 21 years old and is as introspective as a man with decades of life experience.

He learned about corporate culture and the importance of professional presentations, but also said that high-ranking executives are just regulars. “That’s something big,” he said.

Wanda Smith-Gispert, vice president of labor development at MGM, said the company has resources to prevent people from falling into the cracks of Las Vegas.

MGM’s entry-level part-time work offers benefits that can help young people with limited resources continue to work: free meals, employee changing rooms and showers, and daily clean uniforms. Something like. Six months later, MGM will help you pay for college tuition.

Still teens, or just in their twenties, could start with behind-the-scenes roles such as gift shops, arcades, quick-service restaurants, or dry cleaning and tailoring to take care of employee uniforms. there is. According to Smith-Gispert, every job has a route within an organization or industry.

She takes herself as an example. Before coming to MGM and climbing the talent ladder, I worked at other hospitality companies for entry-level front desks, housekeeping, and dishwashing.

MGM does not guarantee work to all program participants, but Smith-Gispert is confident that the program can prepare for some kind of hospitality work.

Clark County Family Services has identified candidates for the program, Ulmer said. Upon arriving at UNLV, program personnel will help you set up your profile on LinkedIn, take professional facial photos and hone your interviewing skills.

“Our job is to make them think about an optimistic and promising future. For foster parents, our greatest predictor of their success is our ability to develop and maintain relationships. I know, “he said. “We work with them on interpersonal skills, not only managing conflicts, but also building their employment skills.”

Smith-Gispert stated that foster parents have basic work ethics that derive from their challenging childhood. High school and college students with a stable family life may work part-time to make money. Foster parents know that their job is to keep their heads on the water and take it seriously as an opportunity for self-sufficiency and self-improvement.

“They will work as if their lives depend on it, and it does,” she said.

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