What does “A Teen’s Life Is Worth Documenting” mean to you?
For a child in the foster care system it probably means those words that are written about them in their personal file. You know the file that precedes them at every meeting, placement, and court hearing. The file that attempts to explain the reason they entered foster care, the length of time in the system, the changes in schools, the number of foster placements, health concerns, and any mental health screenings and diagnoses. The file containing this documentation is extremely important right? Essential even?!
I’m not speaking of the file that documents the thoughts and judgments of countless social workers, lawyers, doctors, and educators and barely contains the views of the youth in foster care. The accomplishments, aspirations, and support systems in a teen’s life are worth documenting. Every teen is unique and full of promise and potential. My teens document their lives in a professional portfolio — a visual tool that gives employers, recruiters, scouts, and mentors a complete picture of who you are. I believe that a professional portfolio can be an integral element not only in building skills and confidence in youth but also in helping them develop and maintain crucial personal and professional connections.
Humans thrive in safe, stable environments. For most youth in the foster care system, repeated moving is an unfortunate way of life. Many personal items are lost when one is in constant transition. Every teen in the system should have a professional portfolio. A professional portfolio is a safe place to house important documents. A portfolio allows the youth to tell their own story — it provides a sense of history and identity. A portfolio allows youth to showcase their assets and talents. It puts them in charge of the things that matter to them. Youth develop organizational skills as they document their experiences, achievements, and goals in their portfolio. A portfolio not only can be used on job interviews or to complete college applications, but when tough times come a portfolio is also a reminder of past successes and future hopes.
The final product in our Packaged For Success™ Portfolio Development Program is a professional portfolio complete with employment tools, academic records, future goals, and much MORE. Every Teen’s Life Is Worth Documenting!
Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic enrichment opportunities to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.