How Children in care are overcoming drastic odds
This last month you would have seen countless posts about graduating from university, children finishing primary or secondary school and how proud their parents are about their achievements.
When most young people finish education, they have a celebration. There are gifts, cake and everyone marvels at their achievements and expresses confidently that he or she is heading in the right direction to make great things happen in the future.
When people in care become of age, there often is no party. There are no gifts, cake or anyone marvelling at how they survived the system. No one has any confidence that they will go on to do anything great at all. These kids simply age out of care with no fanfare and face the harsh realities of adulthood all too soon.
Unfortunately, by the time teenagers in care age out, they have already experienced more trauma, disappointment, and fear than the average 50-year-old. Life has not dealt these children a fair hand. They learn survival instincts and coping mechanisms pretty early on.
However, through hardship develops steely determination. Some young adults aren’t willing to become statistics so they rise above the odds and carve out the kind of life that fate originally denied them.
For many children in care, the journey begins with education. Knowledge is the key to breaking the cycle and gaining access to money, power and status that can help them make an impact on the next generation.
However, getting to university can be a huge hurdle. Children in care are not always with the same placement for years and those who get shuffled around often lose some of their knowledge retention. This leads to poor grades, possible behavioural issues, and a lack of enthusiasm for learning. These factors are likely responsible for the low number of foster children going to university.
In fact, The Centre for Social Justice reports that only 6 percent of 19-21 year olds who grew up in care end up enrolling in university. The organization has pledge to improve this figure, creating the 12 By 24 campaign, which is fighting to get 12 percent of children in care to university by the year 2024.
It’s definitely an ambitious goal, but not an impossible one. Once children in care see others close to their own age who leave care and succeed at university, it might encourage them to think that maybe they can do it, too. Maybe university is for them.
An education can unlock opportunities. University graduates, over the course of their lifetime, tend to earn more and be more gainfully employed in good jobs that bring them satisfaction.
The First Star Scholars programme supports children in care from the age of 14 to 18 helping them over come the barriers to higher education by providing year-round mentoring, role models and a supportive environment where children in care can thrive.
Let’s all work toward that day when all kids – no matter their station in life – can be celebrated for their achievements. There doesn’t have to be cake or gifts, but there does need to be hope. We as a society should all be hopeful that today’s young people will break the mold and set an example for younger children still in care.
After all, when kids in care succeed, we all succeed.