My early childhood was fairly normal. I lived with my mom, step-dad and older sister in Santa Barbara. My mom was a surfer, so most of my childhood was spent at the beach. When I was eight years old, my home life started to change. Around this time, we moved to Santa Maria in order to save money. Unfortunately, our housing situation was stable for only about a year before we started experiencing homelessness off and on, often sleeping in our car. When I neared adolescence, my step-dad left and it was just my mom, sister and me.
Tag: Independent Living Program
The increasing focus on transition age youth (TAY), ages 16–24, is important and necessary. TAY are navigating the developmental years of growing out of childhood and into adulthood. Brain development in TAY is incomplete, leading to limitations in decision making, impulsivity, risk taking, and emotion regulation. These years are important for individuation and development of an autonomous self. These are individuals on whom we should all be focused to be able to provide support, care, and direction as they navigate early adulthood.
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.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
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.
The following is a transcript of the speech given by one of FCNI’s most resilient and remarkable staff, Amber Davis. As you will read, Amber’s story is moving and captivating--her heart to soar above circumstances completely out of her control is nothing short of miraculous. Amber shared her story with our Benefit for Kids’ guests this past August 6th, moving the crowd to tears of heartbreak and joy. We hope you’ll enjoy learning more about Amber, and that her words will inspire you unexpected ways.
When I started the Family Care Network in 1987, there was certainly a different approach and philosophy driving the foster care system; now, looking back, it seems like the Stone Age. The system has come a long way, but it has been a tough, hard row to hoe.
In most of my 40 years of work within the foster care system, service delivery has, for the most part, been fragmented; each bundled nicely within its own silo. The thought of integrating, or terms like “seamless service delivery,” not only didn’t exist, but were discouraged. Bureaucrats were more interested in protecting their turf, budget, control…or whatever. The thought: “This is just the way we do things...” prevailed; and rarely did the question “can we do it a better way to serve foster children?” come up. The big losers were always the kids.