May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize that we each can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.
May's special issue highlights a higher education program for transitioning youth, a tool for evaluating youth connectedness, and other information about foster care.
The Obama administration remains committed to improving the lives of children in foster care and the futures of youth who may leave foster care without a permanent family.
In 2010, the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center received Federal funding to launch RISE (Recognize Intervene Support Empower), an initiative designed to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) children and youth in the child welfare system achieve permanency. RISE helps LGBTQ youth in Los Angeles (1) find durable family connections, (2) achieve emotional permanency, and (3) obtain legal permanency in homes where they feel safe, nurtured, and loved into adulthood.
The following are three personal stories from this program.
Having the RISE team to assist me with the transition process has been tremendously helpful. I could not have imagined making as much progress in the past few months without them. I can honestly say that I have never felt as supported as I do right now. I am not fearful of our time coming to an end because I know I will have the tools that I need to succeed on my own.
Since working with RISE I have been able to legally change my name and gender, gained skills to budget and save for my future, and created a regular workout regimen with my Youth Specialist. It has been a life-changing experience that will serve me for the rest of my life.
I have been living in the Transitional Living Program for 10 months. I was kicked out of my home when I was 18 years old because of my sexual orientation. I was on my own, staying with friends and at times in shelters until I met the RISE team in the summer of 2012. Working with the RISE team has been a wonderful experience; it has been challenging at times, but the RISE team and case manager were able to help me develop goals, which included reconnecting with family and finding employment opportunities.
I learned that I need a support system. I was able to reconnect with my family and "come out." I was nervous and unsure about the outcome but, surprisingly, communication has been a blessing. I realized that the family connections that the RISE team helped me attain are important; my family is willing and able to help me accomplish my goals and also be a support to me, as a gay man. Now more than ever I am ready to make my dreams come true.
I originally found out about the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center from watching a television show while living with family in Texas. Because of my sexual orientation and how my family was treating me, I decided to leave Texas and just showed up at the drop-in center in L.A. The case manager advocated for me to have a place to stay for the night even though the emergency overnight dorm was full.
Since arriving in Los Angeles, I have received more help than just having a place to stay. I was given help in finding a job, writing my resume, career networking, finding housing, and getting into college. The RISE team helped me to realize that I can build a "chosen family" made up of people who are supportive of me who may or may not be relatives. The RISE team empowered and encouraged me to be comfortable in my own skin and "come out" to family members so I could be accepted and not be afraid of what might happen. If I had not gotten this help, I wouldn't be the proud, successful, independent, lesbian individual I am.
Learn more about the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.
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