“There’s potential born in every child. We help them find it.” AMIkids 

With the help of Impact 100 Northwest Florida, AMIkids Emerald Coast implemented the AMIkids Careers Program, in conjunction with their existing day treatment that serves 100 youth each year in Okaloosa County. AMIkids believes that given resources and opportunities, every student has the potential to realize his or her dreams and to make a meaningful and productive contribution to society. Students range from ages 12 through 19, with a 75% males and 50% minority population. The students are referred by the Okaloosa County School District for misbehavior or truancy and by Juvenile Court as a result of criminal conduct. Juvenile Court referrals average 5 arrests prior to entering AMIkids. Students are at the highest risk for dropping out of school, illegal drug use, long term incarceration, and a lifetime of low paying unskilled employment.

In order to become workforce ready, the AMIkids Careers program provides vocational education classes that are integrated into the students regular school day. As students focus on their academic studies, they receive vocational training in safe food handling and preparation (Safe Staff certification) and Information Technology (CompTIA’s A+ certification). Safe Serve provides both coursework and hands on demonstrations. Students will be certified to work in multiple areas of the food services industry upon completion of this program. As part of the CompTIA certification, students will access interactive learning tools and perform work in a functioning lab to develop critical thinking and complex problem solving skills. This technology track provides a career oriented learning experience to prepare students to gain employment in positions requiring a fundamental knowledge of computers as part of their work readiness qualifications.

Students also receive instruction in resume writing, personal finance management, job interview strategies, dressing for success techniques, social skills, and other life management training. Upon completion of the Careers Program, counselors assist students with job placement in the local area, transportation limitations, obtaining career appropriate clothing, and any other community obstacles. They continue to provide support and continuity to students for 9 months after transitioning from there Careers Program. Ongoing involvement is in the form of advice, referrals, resource location, and accountability instruction.

Classes average 10 students each, which allows teachers to provide instruction for each student at their specific academic learning level. AMIkids operates year round and students may transition into the school programs at anytime. Open enrollment ensures that they are able to help students when they need assistance, without waiting until the end of a school term or semester.

For kids who have the odds stacked against them, the Career Program represents an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and crime. AMIkids ensure that students are workforce-ready to help them discover their potential, become self-sustaining, and lead healthy and productive lives. In turn, they will help to create a safer, more prosperous community in Okaloosa County.