Café in KCK gives youth extra shot at success

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 7:10 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - One Kansas City, Kansas, restaurant doesn’t just serve breakfast and lunch -- it also gives hands-on training!

From behind the counter at Connect Café, the faces that serve you are more than mere coworkers.

“It’s a team of people who provide a family,” said Kristalle Hedrick, Vice President of Kansas Programs with FosterAdopt Connect. “If they need something at 3 in the morning, we’re here for them.”

Every year, 500 kids in Kansas age out of foster care without placement or adoption.

“We came up with the idea of starting a café that would employ aged out foster youth,” said Tom Prudden, the vice president of operations.

The café tucked away in KCK was dreamed up by Foster Adopt Connect, an organization that works to bridge gaps in the system and build programs to meet needs just like the one previously mentioned.

“In that program, we would help them with housing, transportation, healthcare, future employment, employment prep,” Prudden said. “Whatever it is a normal family would help them with -- a successful launch into adulthood -- we’re trying to do that with the café.”

The café just opened last fall, but it’s already been wildly successful.

The team is already casting vision for the future and hopes to expand into multiple locations on both sides of the state line.

“It’s reinforced how much of a difference we can make,” Prudden said. “I think some people think we’re just hiring staff, but we’re not. We’re actually engaging these young adults in a very intimate level to where we become part of their lives.”