Last week KPBS has showcased a vulnerable population that is near and dear to San Diego Women Give, Foster Youth. Recognizing the great unmet need, and an excellent opportunity to assist young foster women as they age out of the Foster Care system, San Diego Women Give partnered with Just in Time Foster Youth for two years as they pilot the “Career Horizons for Young Women Program.”
The two part series ran April 6th and 7th with articles: “Many Penniless Former Foster Kids Call the Streets Home,” and “San Diego County Seizing Foster Kids’ Assets to Pay for Care.”
The stories speak to some of the grim realities San Diego Women Give Members are well aware of, and some information that was new- to me.
I was unaware of the Childrens' Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego, a group working to bring research and awareness regarding the situation foster youth are facing here in our community.
Other statistics that struck me from the articles:
· Former foster children have overtaken war veterans as the single largest population in California’s homeless shelters.
· Foster Youth who are entitled to Social Security money from an estranged parent do not receive that income as it is absorbed by San Diego County for “administrative costs” in operating the foster care system.
Many times such difficult stories remain just that to me, sad news. Often I fail to understand- to feel, how I directly contribute to the problem. However, Kriste Draper of the Children’s Advocacy Institute said something in her interview that made me keenly aware of my role.
“As a state we have decided that a foster child’s parents are not good enough to be their parents," Draper said. "Each one of us through our tax dollars has said we can be better parents. And if we are going to accept that responsibility, then we need to make sure that we are better than the homes we have taken them from. And right now, I think that we fail at that.”
To read both stories in their entirety:
Amy Gunderson is a WGSD member and Program Assistant for the Gary and Mary West Foundation