Many of you know the story behind my beginning the Family Care Network. One of the driving forces behind it was my frustration of working so many years within the Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare systems and the horrible, unconscionable way foster youth were exited from the system--“There’s the door; have a nice life.” Youth were basically forced out on their own, some taken directly to homeless shelters. They had no family, no skills, no resources and were given no support whatsoever.
Welcome to our Blog! We post weekly articles written on a variety of topics from a variety of people, including our staff, volunteers, community members, and our parents and youth. The Voices of our Blog are opinion pieces, reflecting the diverse experiences and viewpoints of our community. These articles are not meant to represent the views of everyone at FCNI, our Board of Directors and staff, or present a definitive policy statement, but are designed to be informative and thought-provoking.
Stop right now. Lift up your hands and inspect them carefully. What story do they tell? For some of us with more than a few years behind us, they may be scarred, twisted with arthritis or calloused from years of work. While for others, they may be beautiful, well-manicured and happy appendages. Hands are essential. They are a critical connection to others, to our environment, to our success, to our pleasure--to our survival! For a moment, imagine your life without your hands!
Every year, our Independent Living Program in SLO County holds an Awards Night to honor our hard working youth--acknowledging their efforts to earn degrees or certifications, secure employment, and reach their life goals. We honor young people like Monica, a former foster youth who recently graduated from the Design School of Cosmetology and obtained her state license. At 20 years old, Monica is now employed at a local salon while raising her healthy, happy son. But her story won’t stop here--Monica plans to continue her education at Cuesta College this fall.
Foster Youth who “age-out” of care at 18 or 19 face multiple obstacles, regardless of their intended route to adulthood. Whether they want to go to college, go to a vocational program, or work to meet their own needs, they do so with limited life skills and even more limited resources and support. They also forge their paths alone, without parental safety nets or financial assistance.
It must be my imagination--at least I wish is was--but it seems that time is vanishing at an ever increasing rate. It’s like the more I accomplish, the more there is yet to be done. How disgusting it is to reach Friday, only to wish it was Monday because there is too much left on my “to do” list. And it can’t really be Friday, wasn’t it just Sunday? What a convoluted picture. But, I have a sneaky suspicion that many of you are nodding your heads in agreement. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the human services business--an unfortunate side effect of life!