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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Aging Out of Foster Care

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This one made me cry.

Report: Foster Kids Face Tough Times After Age 18
by Pam Fessler

NPR, April 7, 2010

(Click on the text below to read the full story at NPR)

It's hard turning 18 — moving out, finding a job, going to college. But many foster children have to do it by themselves, without the lifeline to parents and home that helps many teens ease into independence.

A major report out Wednesday says that many former foster kids have a tough time out on their own. When they age out of the system, they're more likely than their peers to end up in jail, homeless or pregnant. They're also less likely to have a job or go to college.

Life can be a struggle for these young people, even with help from the government and nonprofit agencies.

Take Josh Mendoza, a shy young man from Tampa, Fla., with soulful eyes and a hint of dark hair along his upper lip. He lived in 14 different group homes after he was removed from his mother's care more than two years ago because she used drugs.

But now he's just turned 18, and like 30,000 other foster teens this year, he's suddenly out on his own.

"This is my apartment," Mendoza says as he opens the door to a ground floor unit at an apartment complex in Tampa. The living room is empty except for a navy blue futon and a small TV. The white walls are bare. He has only been here for two weeks.

There's food in the cupboard, but not a lot: some spaghetti, Cream of Wheat and cereal.

2 comments:

PatricktheRogue said...

My Dad died about five years ago, when I was 35. I was thinking the other day how fortuitous it was that I had him around for so long, because he was my sounding board and advice giver for all those things you run into as you enter the adult world that they don't cover in any school. I realized that, if there is a God, (which I know is a bigger IF in my mind than yours) that he was nice enough to leave my Dad around to the point that I didnt really need him anymore. Now, I don't at all mean that it wouldn't be great to have him around to share in all the things his grandkids are doing, but after 35 years, I was basically done NEEDING him - he'd taught me enough that I was fine on my own.

My point here is that there really was a need for his wisdom and advice at many points during those first 35 years. I can't imagine how screwed up I would be were I completely on my own, without tether or ties, at 18. I probably wouldn't have made it past 20.

I will hold a newfound respect for those adults I know who've made their way in the world without family to ground them, and assist them on their way.

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Shaun,
It's good to hear/read the fondness, love and respect you have for your Dad. You were, indeed, blessed.

Yes, those folks who make it without the care, guidance and love of parents are special. I just hope more can be done for Foster children and those who age out of the system. I've often felt a calling to help in a big way. I'll pray about it and wait for the answer.
Thanks for commenting!
Alicia