Extending Foster Care Beyond 18
Did you know that most children in the foster care system have never had their birthday celebrated with a party? It seems like such a simple thing, but for most kids in foster care, their birthdays go completely unnoticed and it’s just another day without a “forever” family. For most other children, birthdays are happy occasions shared with family and friends, but for children in foster care, birthdays can be a painful reminder of the family they are no longer with. This week we had our first chance to celebrate one of our boys on his special day. A few of our board members and I took him out to Wynwood for dinner and loudly sang “Happy Birthday”. He was extremely surprised and really enjoyed the night. Our goal was to help him to feel loved, to feel special, to feel “normal” and to know that someone in his community cares. I hope that by celebrating his life, we were able to give him a little bit of joy that he can carry with him for a long time.
A study from Chapin Hall, a Policy Research Center at the University of Chicago, finds through research in new programs created to help aged-out children that although those who age out of the foster care system are not exactly falling off a cliff, they are desperately clinging to the edge. Many programs are catered to girls while boys are left behind. Due to the lack of support, they usually end up in jail, homeless, and struggling with substance abuse. These children are our children – the children of society, of the state. I think it’s our responsibility to do our best to help bring positive change in their otherwise unchanging lives. Research says that former foster kids who have someone to rely on do better than those who don’t. I truly believe that despite their circumstances, with a little help these foster kids can grow to be successful and happy in life. This week we are thankful for the chance to celebrate a life of someone who is starting their new beginning. I hope you will be a part of many future celebrations and join us on our journey as we continue Building Genesis.