CAPITAL REGION CARES
“ No one ever talked to them about putting a resume together , interviewing , how to go look for that job . So they are just out there dangling , and I don ’ t want them to dangle anymore .”
April Levingston Executive Director , Sacramento Resources Community Foundation
Bokman says the most frightening statistic about transitional youth is the percentage of girls who become pregnant . The Blossom Place website says 70 percent are pregnant by age 21 and that half repeat the cycle of brokenness . That means these young women also frequently have a child to care for in addition to taking care of themselves . “ When they age out at 18 , the problem is that they ’ re chronologically 18 but most kids in the foster care system have suffered from some kind of childhood trauma ,” Bokman says . “ So they get kind of stuck developmentally . You might have a kid that ’ s 18 chronologically but is still a 12-year-old developmentally as far as being able to tackle life skills .”
United Way ’ s Early says volunteers recently held a life skills workshop on how to buy a car and walked former foster youth through how much it costs for insurance and maintenance . One volunteer told her that the session started by asking participants what car they wanted to buy . “ She said by the end , most of them , the car they started with , that they wanted — they went , ‘ never mind ,’” Dawnté says .
Lopez says company mentorships , paid internships and training opportunities can make a significant difference in the life of a foster youth transitioning into adulthood , as the trauma they have experienced can often leave them bereft of important social skills such as problem solving and teamwork . “ Many of our foster youth do not have one protective adult in their life ,” she says . “ That one protective adult can have a profound impact .”
Despite the staggering numbers of foster youth who leave the system to find homelessness or whose need for a sense of belonging leads to associations with gangs , there are success stories that give hope to those who do their best to help them find the right path . Bokman points to a girl who came to Blossom Place at 17 , already with a young child , but graduated from high school at Bokman ’ s home . She went on to get her driver ’ s license , saved up for a car and trained to be a certified nursing assistant .
“ She has her own place now and her little one is about to start kindergarten ,” Bokman says . “ She ’ s doing well .”
Ken Smith is a freelance writer , public relations consultant and video producer who is also managing editor of Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine magazine . More at kdscommunications . com .
78 comstocksmag . com | May 2022