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OneWorld Community Health Center Starts Youth Navigator Program to Reach Foster Care Youth in Transition

A new program offered at OneWorld Community Health Centers, The Youth Navigator Program, is now available to assist youth making the transition out of the foster care system to living independently within the community. The program, funded with a two-year grant, helps to develop a plan for participants to create and/or maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as guide them in attaining their personal goals for the future.

After an initial meeting to assess a participant’s needs and eligibility, a Youth Advocate works to help youth acquire sufficient and affordable health insurance and/or services for physical, mental, and behavioral healthcare. Youth are guided so that they may obtain services that are specific and targeted to their individual needs, referring the participant to outside agencies in the community for specialty services that are not in the spectrum of what OneWorld Community Health Centers provides.

“Our goal is to help youth find a medical home so that when they need medical help they know where to go,” Beth Hansen, a licensed mental health practitioner and Youth Navigator Program coordinator said. Working to connect with youth between the ages of 18 and 20, those who will soon be leaving the foster care system or who recently have done so, Hansen hopes she can build a rapport with individuals so they feel comfortable checking in on a regular basis and fully understand all the services available through the Youth Navigator Program.

“Right now I work with people on a case-by-case basis assisting them with a specific need, like working with them to schedule a health physical for example, but in addition to the health care components that OneWorld can assist with, through the Youth Navigator Program I can help connect individuals to additional resources to address housing needs or school questions, or a variety of other things,” Hansen said. “Even if I don’t know the answer to something, I can find it or can direct them to someone else who can help through one of the many relationships and partnerships I have built across the community.”

Since July 2010 when the Youth Navigator Program started, Hansen has been working to spread the word about the Program by attending community meetings, working with school social workers, and working with other foster care agencies to promote OneWorld’s services.

Through the Youth Navigator Program, OneWorld Community Health Centers offers youth access to a wide range of affordable health care services including dental care, prescription assistance, treatment for minor injuries, behavioral health screening and counseling, financial counseling, general exams, prenatal services, STD education, treatment and testing, lab work, referrals, and more. Currently, as funds allow, each qualifying individual will be provided an introductory physical and dental screening for free with follow up appointments offered for as low as a $10 co-pay.

“It’s hard when you’re young and you’re not sure where to go for help, whether it’s help getting a prescription refilled or help treating depression; I want people to know they have options for health care and a place to go,” Hansen said. “My door is always open and I am excited to help teach youth how to care for themselves and become self-sufficient as they transition out of foster care.”

To learn more about the Youth Navigator Program or to schedule an initial screening appointment, contact Beth Hansen at 402.502.8961. You can also visit the OneWorld Community Health Centers Web site for more information.