DURHAM, N.C. – Building on its commitment to improve the health and well-being of children and families who are part of North Carolina’s foster care system, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has launched an Apprenticeship Program for youth transitioning out of foster care. The program connects young adults leaving foster care with career opportunities in Blue Cross NC’s retail centers, providing training and professional experience that set the course for sustainable career paths. In the program’s inaugural year, there are two apprentices working in the Raleigh Retail Center, and Blue Cross NC is working with organizations serving transition age youth and county departments of social services to recruit future participants.

More than 11,000 children and youth are in North Carolina’s foster care system. In most cases, young adults transition out of foster care at 18 years old, and they can face significant challenges related to mental health, housing and employment. Data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation about transition age youth nationwide show that:

  • 29% report experiencing homelessness between the ages of 19 and 21
  • Just 57% report being employed, either full or part-time, by age 21
  • Approximately 20% report being incarcerated between the ages of 17–19 and 19–21

“With each young life impacted through the Apprenticeship Program, Blue Cross NC is strengthening vulnerable families, our communities and our state’s economy. We know that stable employment is a critical driver of health and the foundation for young adults to thrive,” said Angela Boykin, Blue Cross NC’s Vice President of Engagement, Integration and Innovation. “Our Apprenticeship Program provides opportunities, training and comprehensive support to help young adults transitioning out of foster care navigate challenges and create financial and economic stability that will boost healthy young adult independence.”

Apprentices in the program receive a wide array of social, educational and financial support to help them successfully transition to adulthood and into a career. The program will connect apprentices with higher education programs at North Carolina’s community colleges, like Wake Technical College’s Fostering Bright Futures Program. In addition, Blue Cross NC employees will serve as mentors, providing expertise and resources to ensure each participant grows in skills, knowledge and confidence.

Blue Cross NC’s Apprenticeship Program is registered with ApprenticeshipNC. Local departments of social services and organizations serving foster care families and transition age youth from across North Carolina can refer potential participants to the program by emailing apprenticeship@bcbsnc.com.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), the leading not-for-profit health plan in North Carolina, is committed to making health care more affordable, easier to navigate and accessible for all. Since 1933, the health insurer has created programs and initiatives to provide North Carolinians the opportunity to be healthy. Blue Cross NC serves its customers and communities of more than 4.2 million members, including approximately 1.1 million on behalf of other Blue Plans. Blue Cross NC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross NC online at www.bluecrossnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.