Posts Tagged ‘aging out’

David Karas writes at the Christian Science Monitor, “When Danielle Gletow adopted her daughter Mia, she began to learn about the American foster care system – and the challenges faced by more than 100,000 children and young adults who are part of it.

“Determined to do something to help them, Ms. Gletow made it her mission not only to educate others about the challenges these children and teens face, but also to give people an easy way to lend a helping hand.

“That’s how One Simple Wish was born.

“Founded in 2008 out of Gletow’s home office, One Simple Wish is a nonprofit organization that connects foster children and vulnerable families with potential donors who grant their wishes online or at the organization’s Ewing, N.J.-based ‘Wish Shop.’

“The wishes, which typically cost from $5 to $100 to grant, encompass everything from a desire for a musical instrument to a movie ticket, new clothes, or horseback riding lessons. …

“To date, Gletow has seen more than 2,800 wishes granted by her organization. And while each is special, Gletow enjoys remembering some of the first wishes that she herself helped to grant. …

“When Sarah, a girl who had grown up in foster care, was graduating from basic training in the US Army, Gletow was able to help arrange for her caseworker to fly to South Carolina. … Sarah was the only student who didn’t have family coming to the graduation, Gletow says. ‘She had no way to pay for [her caseworker] to come.’ ”

Read more.

Suzanne’s friend Liz has been something like a Big Sister and Legal
Guardian for many years to a girl in foster care who is now a young woman. Liz says that the transition out of foster care is an especially vulnerable period, as young people are thrilled to be “free” but still need the kinds of support that young adults with families have.

Photograph: Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
Danielle Gletow, founder of One Simple Wish, stands next to a wall of thank-you notes.

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Not long ago, I talked to Suzanne’s friend Liz about her long and deep support for a girl who was struggling through the foster-care system in California. She expressed the view that kids who “age out” of foster care still need support. Maybe they reject anything that smacks of the government programs at first, but the possibility of more advice and assistance should be revisited after a year or so, Liz said. That’s because the young people are mostly without the networks and connections that their peers can turn to as they move into adulthood.

So I was interested to read in the Boston Globe last week that there is at least one small support program for a few graduates of foster care. It’s an internship program on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

About a decade ago a staffer working on Capitol Hill took note of a particular group of interns. “The interns, all former foster children, had aged out of the system and made their way through college. Now they were in Washington, on Capitol Hill, working at the seat of power and, Lindsay Ellenbogen noticed, not always having the resources to succeed.

“They had a willingness to learn — often they arrived early, stayed late, and were eager to take on any task, even if it was just making copies or answering phones. But many had never been far from their homes. Few had ever spent time around politics or politicians. And when they asked questions about how to write a news release or listen in on a committee meeting, staffers were often too busy to show them the ropes.

“ ‘When you’re on Capitol Hill, you’re living three days before noon, so you can’t really stop and help somebody,’ said Ellenbogen, who worked as a Capitol Hill staffer alongside the former foster youth.

“Now, nine years later, Ellenbogen is supervising another group of former foster children and making sure they have an easier transition into the world of a Washington intern. Last year, Ellenbogen, who had worked as a Capitol Hill staffer for 10 years, joined the advisory board of the
Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Foster Youth Internship program.”

Now she has time to answer the interns’ questions and help them find the resources they need. Read more here.

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