Durham, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has joined forces with Open Table, a nonprofit organization that helps transform communities by creating access to social capital for people with complex needs, to implement a model program in North Carolina that will allow youth in foster care to make a more successful transition to independent adulthood. Through its Healthy Blue Medicaid plan, Blue Cross NC has made an initial investment of $112,000 to help Open Table launch its Core Table and Network Table models in North Carolina, building on its efforts to improve child and family wellbeing statewide. The three-year commitment will begin in Raleigh and Winston-Salem and have a statewide impact by year three.

North Carolina has over 16,000 children and young people currently in foster care, with hundreds aging out of the system every year. The Open Table model ensures that foster care youth are equipped with the skills, knowledge and resources they need to start an independent life when they age out of the child welfare system. Open Table’s proprietary, evidence-driven models are focused on addressing drivers of health and empowering people with complex challenges – including poverty, substance use disorders, trauma and behavioral health – to access a broad array of social support that can help them build healthy and successful lives.

“This collaboration with Open Table builds on Blue Cross NC’s goal of providing specific care, support and resources to North Carolina's foster care families, enabling them to succeed and thrive,” said Fran Gary, Senior Vice President of Government Markets for Blue Cross NC. “All of North Carolina's youth in foster care deserve this opportunity to find consistent support as they connect with mentors who will help them develop an actionable life plan as they transition to independent living.”

“I was lost when I aged out of the foster care system. I was homeless, I didn’t have anywhere to go, and I didn’t have a job,” said Jessica, an Open Table participant. “Open Table helped me get where I needed to be. We had four goals. The first was to get my car. The second was to get my driver’s license. The third was to help find a stable home for me and my son, and to get a job that would allow me to provide for me and my son.  They helped me grow because they never abandoned me.”

Through Open Table’s Core Table Model, a group of volunteers forms a “Table,” guided by a plan that outlines goals specific to the individual requesting assistance. Over the course of a year through this program, the volunteers meet on a weekly basis with the individual transitioning out of foster care to support and help them create a healthy environment. The model has yielded positive outcomes, creating long-lasting supportive relationships between 95% of volunteers and participants as well as better job and educational opportunities for 85% of participants.

“Many transitional age youths involved in Open Table have dramatically improved their quality of life, while also decreasing their level of involvement with a variety of taxpayer-funded programs, ranging from criminal justice to foster care for their own children," said Jon Katov, CEO and Founder of Open Table. “With nearly a century of experience in the state and a long history of supporting vulnerable populations like foster children, Blue Cross NC is a strong partner for this effort.”

After volunteer recruitment and training, Open Table will work with volunteers, including Healthy Blue staff, to launch its first three tables in North Carolina by the end of 2021.  Information on youth eligibility and enrollment process will be released closer to that time. With this investment from Blue Cross NC through Healthy Blue, North Carolina will become the 32nd state to benefit from the Open Table model.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina: 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is committed to making health care better, simpler and more affordable. We have been driving better health in North Carolina since 1933, working to tackle our communities’ greatest health challenges. 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.

About Open Table:

Open Table has trained a continuum of its models and processes in 31 states to support solutions for the complex needs of people and social challenges. In the healthcare sector, Open Table is innovating the use of community relational and social capital as an access point for social determinants of health. Since 2005, Open Table, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, has been creating models that focus on the relational and social capital of communities as the most effective, individualized tools for human development, economic mobility, and well-being. These models have been trained in thirty-one states and volunteers have given more than 775,000 volunteer hours to implement them. The models are trained and practiced across an array of sectors and Open Table also trains its model development process to social entrepreneurs in communities with equity barriers to empower their growth and sustainability. https://www.theopentable.org