Lottie didn’t have a typical childhood. Growing up with her dad who lived with a medical condition that left him physically challenged meant that Lottie had to carry more of the caregiving duties because he wasn’t able. Everything in Lottie's life took a backseat to her dad's condition and needs, including school and her own social development. Eventually her dad’s condition worsened and he was moved into a full-time care facility. Without any family, Lottie was placed into foster care at the age of 14.
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.
No one’s path in life is straight, without mountains to climb and valleys to cross. For foster youth, their mountains often appear much too early in life--oftentimes at birth. And without a community to look out for them, to help them weather and cross the difficult terrain that surfaces through not fault of their own, they can be left to wander, uncared for, for life. Too often, these individuals become victims of their circumstances, suffering cyclical consequences of a lifepath they never got to choose.