19 Foster Youth Graduate High School

19 Foster Youth Graduate High School June 5, 2019

19 Foster Youth Graduate High School

This month marks a major milestone for many of our youth in foster care, with 19 graduating from high school and all of the graduates going on to college or vocational schools.

“Why not get a higher education?” asks Ikemba, who is graduating high school and headed to SDSU.

“When I graduate I want to be able to know that all my hard work was worth it,” he said. “I want to be happy knowing I finished college.”

The youth are all part of our Independent Living Skills (ILS) program, which helps current and former foster youth transition to successful and responsible adulthood. In collaboration with South Bay Community Services, ILS provides educational support, supportive case management and life skills training.

The services are an important part of our efforts to transform how youth are transitioning out of the foster care system.

Foster youth are less likely to complete high school and have the life skills necessary to become independent at 18 than their peers. In California, the most recent data available show that only 50 percent of foster youth graduated in 2016-17, compared to about 83 percent for the overall graduation rate. Far fewer go on to college and many become homeless.

Djulia, a foster youth also graduating this month and starting her college journey at UC Berkeley, says many youth in foster care don’t know about resources to help. Her advice for others?

“We have to allow people in to help us socially, emotionally and financially,” she says. “We shouldn’t see ourselves as doomed. Don’t sell yourself too short. Don’t say, ‘Let me just screw around and get by.’ Foster kids come with advantages. Use the resources that are there. Be your own motivator. Find a way. Don’t just sit down. There is always more to everyone.”

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