Life trajectories are often bleak for youths who age out of foster care without permanent community connections, carefully honed life skills or the presence of consistent nurturing adults. Many don’t finish high school; too many become homeless after leaving the system and fall prey to unsavory lifestyles because that is how they are able to survive. Their risk of substance abuse or incarceration is significant.
Friends of Children believes there are ways to help young people in foster care experience a positive, life-affirming transition to adulthood. Life paths can be altered – for the better. Take Hannah’s path, for instance.
At 18, Hannah had already lost her parents to drugs, her siblings to foster care, and she had been adopted and un-adopted and slept on more couches than she could recall while she finished high school. But somehow, her strength to survive and succeed prevailed.
When Hannah first met Friends of Children staff, she was in an abusive relationship with an older man who she hoped would take care of her in the absence of a family. With the support of her older brother, who had completed his undergraduate degree, Hannah enrolled in college, but she had nowhere to live when dorms closed for vacation, including the long summer breaks. Survival meant living where she could and being involved in relationships that put her at risk.
Friends of Children immediately recognized not only the jeopardy Hannah placed herself in but also her incredible promise. Slowly, we began to build a relationship with her, emphasizing her strengths and honestly identifying our areas of concern. She heard us, and she has taken advantage of our support. In addition to mentoring Hannah, we provided financial support through our Foster Dignity program, which offers stable housing for Hannah and her
now 2-year-old daughter. And through our innovative SEEING THEIR VOICES project, we gave her the opportunity to chronicle her foster care experience in photographs and poetry.
Today, Hannah credits Friends of Children with changing her life’s trajectory. She is slated to graduate from college in May 2015, a fete she would not have accomplished without an inspired determination that is nurtured by Friends of Children.
Behind us in helping young people like Hannah are our new supporters who understand the importance of investing in the future of children. Their generous and thoughtful gifts to our independent child advocacy organization is making the difference in favor of a life well-lived rather than one lived in defeat. Their contributions helped underwrite our work with Hannah and other young people like her.
Gratitude doesn’t begin to describe our feeling of joy – a life so beautifully impacted and a future generation protected!
But Hannah is only one young person. Our intensive work with her is part of an emerging service in our effort to develop a comprehensive program to help many more young people like her. We welcome your support toward building this service. It’s needed!