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Program Helps Foster Children Become Working Adults

ROCKLIN (CBS13) — A new jobs program is throwing a lifeline to young people in foster care, who often age out of the system with no skills or resources available to them.

Frankie Serrano is a popular guy behind the deli counter at Bel Air in Rocklin. His boss says people wait in line for the 22-year-old's signature sandwiches.

"The customers love him. They come back and ask for him. They say, 'Frankie, we want him to make our sandwich,'" said Heather Sizemore.

But his road to super sandwich maker and valued employee hasn't been an easy one.

"I've been growing up not sure I'm going to be at the same home or if anything is certain," he said.

He was placed in the foster care system when he was just 8 years old, moving around to four different homes waiting to be to leave. It's an insecure life a lot of foster kids face.

But a new program called iFoster Youth partners with businesses to give kids like Frankie a better chance at future success.

"We've been working with iFoster to essentially take these youth that may be aging out of the system and give them tangible career and work life skills," said Raley's spokeswoman Chelsea Minor.

The idea is to connect with the young people who often have felt disconnected.

"Their managers want them to come to work, their peers and their co-workers want to see them every day and collaborate," she said.

For the first time, young people like Serrano feel needed and important.

"This helps create the stability that so many youth lack," he said.

Co-founder Reid Cox says employers aren't told the job candidate is part of the program.

"We want the youth to stand on their own two feet," he said. "We put them through a 30-day curriculum that teaches them life skills, job skills, social soft skills."

Serrano says it was these skills that gave him the confidence to walk into the only interview he's been on. For him, the job has meant a stable environment with co-workers who have become family.

He's already looking to move up to an assistant deli manager position, and his other goal is getting his signature sandwich on the menu.

"I got to talk to the bosses see if I can get that on the board," he said.

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