Though I no longer work in the field of foster care, it is very much close to my heart. From working with foster care children/adolescents, I developed an idea about how I would work with them and help them to reach for their dreams. I read this article in the University of California, Riverside (UCR) in their issue for Fall 2008 Vol. 3 No. 4 for the Magazine of UC Riverside. The article is called, "A Chance to Soar and Land Safety," by Bettye Miller. I was nearly in tears by the time I was done reading this.
Well the article talks about how many foster youths are usually the ones who do not get fair chances for their education due to constantly undergoing new foster placements, low on their educational credit, no family support, and often time no way to earn funding for their education. This one current UCR student who is majoring in dance with a minor in sociology has been at more than 13 high schools and emancipated from the foster care system with only 40 credits. Now she is 28 years of age, with two daughters, 12 and 7, and has 3.6 GPA at UCR. This completely states determination beyond any experiences of her present and past. I read where she stated that she did not feel she could accomplish what she has. As stated, "Living in foster homes is an unsettling feeling of not belonging," Franco said. "Foster kids don't feel like they're allowed to be normal kids. You're not allowed to make the same mistakes as normal kids. You never know when you'll be sent away for minor things."
Firsthand I know exactly what this young woman had to felt and went through in the foster care system. I remembered seeing many get placed for short periods of time, and as she says there are no room for mistakes. I am happy to read a success story like she is. She is taking 24 units per quarter and will be done within four quarters. I find that a lot of these children don't have families to turn to once they are done. They don't have safety nets waiting to catch them when they fall. They don't have the support when they had a rough day. She was able to find community support through church and other community resources. When she is done, she wants to work for the County under the Independent Living Program to help other foster youths. She is also mentoring a freshman who is majoring in dance. I have found it that a lot of foster youths relate to people who have been there. I remembered listening to stories of some of the children on my cases, and seeing how very strong they are at their young age. Things we could only imagine happening to them was real life to these children.
It helps to be a mentor to someone who needs someone I clearly say. The things we all go through in life can be most difficult and often quite scary. If there is no support, often times people feel alone. One thing I noticed with foster care children is often time we as their Social Worker are their one main support that they latch on. I remembered my administrator telling us often, "You got to treat these children as if they were your own." She was right! Of course there are some who don't trust anyone and refuse to open up for several months, but they know you are there and know you care. I must say that I have a special place in my heart for foster care children and for all children in general including people. It is like magic to them and seeing it when you say something that clicks in their head. They look you with bewildering eyes. They feel hopeful and encouraged. It is a terrible thing to go through life expecting to have a good one when you get let down by those who love you.
I felt so inspired by this woman's life and how she perceptionalized her life. It was a hard life for her. Could you imagine being in a different home at any moment and starting all over again with people who are really strangers? Now she knows her path and she knows how to help those who have been down the same roads and still walking down them.
Tuppett Yates, Assistant Proffessor of Psychology, quoted, "These are kids with fragmented histories who don't need a fragmented education." She is one of the launchers for the "UCR Guardian Scholars Program," to encourage and help foster children obtain a college education. She researches on the "risk and resilience among high-risk youth, including those in foster care and those who has aged out of the system," according to this UCR magazine. Props to her for doing this and putting the word out there.
I think that if I felt to go back to college, I would want my Phd in Psychology to do my research on children and adolescents specifically those high risks like Ms. Yates is currently doing her research on.
I was surprised due to the age of Ms. Franco that she is not able to received additional financial aid from Pell Grants. It's the most ridiculous thing that I have ever heard. Plus the UC system is undergoing changes where they may be minimizing their numbers on admission and raising the cost on tuition fees. (Quite terrible)
Working in foster care was a great stride but full of challenges, I always say if I had to go back to this field of work that I want to be the one to help make policies and programs in regards to foster children.
And I may add that I am one of those who is an Alumni of this fine institution with my major in Psychology. I loved every minute of it, and even being a research assistant for a grad student in the Graduate Psychology program. So you know I feel proud when I hear professors from this institution doing it up!