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.
When you are a foster child, a strong support system can be the thing that either makes you or breaks you. Through all of the different placements, the different caseworkers, and the emotional havoc that it has upon youth in care, it often can seem like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
If I were to say that I was optimistic throughout my 9 years in care, I would be lying. However, around age 15, I learned to find joy and happiness in the small things in life. Whenever I visited my older sister or had heart-to-hearts with my younger sister about life, I started to realize how much I had grown, and even though I was going through a tough time, I could either lie down and die or I could keep my head up and keep focusing on graduating from high school and achieving my dream of going to college.
At age 17, many foster youth enter Independent Living, which is a program that teaches teens how to live on their own. Throughout this program, foster teens are taught to open a checking account, make a budget, and use time management so they can effectively balance school with home life. Luckily, for me, I had a strong support system, and there were people who were with me every step of the way. From the time that I moved into my independent living home to the day that I started college, there were people that showed me how to save, how to fill out college applications, and how to cook.
If you can somehow show a foster teen that you are invested in them, it can make all the difference. As they mature and become more independent, foster teens become more confident and sure of themselves. If foster teens have that mindset when they are getting ready to exit out of care, they are more likely to thrive on their own when they finally leave care.
Learn more about the National Resource Center for Youth Development (NRCYD).
The NRCYD's Young Adult Training and Technical Assistance (YATTA) Network supports a partnership with young people to improve State and Tribal child welfare services for youth. For more information about the YATTA Network, contact Clay Finck.
Your input makes a difference.