I call the 18th birthday the day you become a legal adult. You still have one more “teen year” but you can vote and sign your own medical consent forms. When your 20th birthday arrives you are no longer a teenager but unable to legally purchase alcohol and still carded for cigarettes in most states. Then it arrives – your 21st birthday – you can party in Vegas and gamble in the sin city casinos. (PS…I don’t recommend cigarettes, alcohol, or gambling – I do recommend voting!) Age really is just a number. We are all individual beings who have traveled unique journeys. None of us are guaranteed to have the skills and resources to thrive independently just because our birthday clock reaches 18 or 21.
I am a mother and an advocate for youth in foster care. Today is my AMAZING daughter’s birthday. She is beginning a new journey and I’m honored to join her as she travels new paths. I see greatness in her!! I remember with joy and pride her born day, her first steps, her first day of Pre-Kindergarten, her elementary school promotion ceremony, her first concert, her first time seeing the doctor alone, her first perm, her decision to go back to natural, her high school graduation, her first day of college, her first job interview, and her first time casting a ballot in a presidential election. I will always remember the day she became a “twenty-something”. There have been challenges and obstacles throughout the years but through each trial she has had preparation, guidance, information, connections, and financial support. The dichotomy between my daughter’s transition to adulthood and the transition to adulthood for far too many teens in the foster care system pains me.
According to Child Welfare League of America:
- Twenty-five percent of foster youth reported that they had been homeless at least one night within 2.5 to 4 years after exiting foster care.
- Three in ten of the nation’s homeless adults report foster care history.
- Fifty-four percent of former foster youth completed high school.
- Thirty-eight percent of former foster youth maintained employment for one year.
Let’s join together and make a commitment to decrease the number of young people entering the foster care system and increase the number of young people exiting the foster system into the home of a loving, nurturing, safe, permanent family. Here’s How:
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Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox utilizes youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic empowerment strategies 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. We are committed to supporting and raising awareness about the needs and potential of teenagers in the foster care system.
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