Power of One
Youth need support. In a point-in-time snapshot, there were 8,994 children in foster care in July 2016. Washington state has a shortage of foster parents, leading to a statewide crisis. There are clear statistics that show roughly 50% of youth in foster care graduate high school. We are less likely to be employed. In addition, upwards of 30% of alumni live at or below the poverty line. We struggle in reaching important benchmarks in our transition to adulthood such as getting our driver’s licenses for transportation, learning ways to obtain and keep stable housing after exiting care, and obtaining important documents like our social security cards and birth certificates. Statistics show that 1 in 5 youth will become homeless within a year of aging out. These are trends that can, and need to change.
Before I was put into care with my aunt, I had a GPA under 2.0 and rarely did anything beneficial to further my education or wellbeing. After my aunt took me in under kinship care, I started passing all my classes with As and Bs. I also started participating in extra-curricular activities like Student Court, Teen Council, and The Mockingbird Society. My success and ability to overcome many of the issues faced by youth in care took a lot of strenuous work and time. I didn’t do this alone, but it happened because of the support I had from one caring adult, my aunt. My story with foster and kinship care is overwhelmingly positive, and although it might not be the same for everyone else, one thing is clear, just having someone there for you can make a big difference. We as youth and young adults are the future of this world, so it’s important that we grow up to be educated, motivated, and passionate members of society, and we need help to do this.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are caring adults out there, like my aunt, who want to help you reach your dreams.”
If you are a young person reading this, stay passionate, and driven. You are powerful. You can make change and you will. There is no hurdle too high. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are caring adults out there, like my aunt, who want to help you reach your dreams. Underground rapper Immortal Technique once said “divine success is not measured by what you have, but what you have sacrificed to get where you are.” If you are an adult reading this, become a foster parent! It is a long process but it’s rewarding and it makes a world of a difference. Most importantly, we NEED you. In some cases, a youth’s life literally depends on it. If becoming a foster parent isn’t an option for you and you still want to show your support, there are many other opportunities to support young people. Take some time and research the opportunities in your community and then get involved!
Either way, I am asking you to not just ask for change, but to be the change.