I’d like to help celebrate National Foster Care Month debunking some of the misconceptions about what kids in foster care need.
Kids need a supportive adult. Sometimes, older youth in foster care are no longer looking for adoptive parents, but instead, a stable adult to rely upon. At HeartShare St. Vincent’s, we create opportunities for youth in high school and college to connect with adults, who will always be there to offer advice and guidance. From apartment hunting in New York City to choosing the right college, youth in care—like all of us in our 20s—need help navigating the challenges of young adulthood. You can be that supportive adult.
Kids need a safe space. Kids in foster care have been moved around many times. There’s little that’s stable in their lives. They need a safe space to talk about the traumatic things that have happened to them. We address that with our therapeutic mental health services, but we’ve also created a space where young people can discuss anything—from institutional racism to their hopes and challenges. We don’t just want “success stories.” We want to know who our children are as human beings. You can be a part of that safe space by attending our Youth Development workshops and forums.
Kids need an education. Less than 10% of kids in foster care make it to college graduation. In our family lives, many of us were fortunate to discuss college applications, financial aid and many of the other nuances of college admission and campus life. We also had a family to put us through school or at least, help us take out student loans. HeartShare St. Vincent’s developed the American Dream Program to help young men and women in foster care achieve their college and career dreams. You can contribute individually to an ADP scholarship or become a corporate sponsor.
Kids need a network. Much like higher education opportunities that we may have taken for granted, kids in foster care don’t have a professional network to advance themselves. We continue to develop a community of people, including our Junior Board and community volunteers, who are professionals in healthcare, education, law, criminal justice, and finance, who take the time to converse one-on-one with our youth. You can be a mentor to one of our students or offer an internship.
If you’d like to help a young person in foster care in any of these ways, I welcome you to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your love and compassion, as well as professional expertise and connections can truly transform a young person’s life.