Monday, August 8, 2011

Fostering Connections

“Under proposed legislation named Fostering Connections, I would have been able to enter an independent living environment, where I would have had access to a variety of resources. Additionally, DHS would have helped me establish a support system, sent a caseworker to see me, aided me with my job search, and helped me with other services. If I'd had that help, I would be in a different situation than I am in now.”

From The Detroit News

As a sixteen (about to be 17) year old going into my senior year in high school I was granted independent status by Michigan’s Family Independence Agency (DHS). At the time that decision was made there were no independent living programs in the state. I was seen as too old and independent to live in a foster home placement, I had out stayed the usefulness of my group and RTC placements, and going ‘home’ to one of my parents was not an option. I was in school full time, getting acceptable grades and I had had the same job for a year, I seemed pretty stable on paper. So the decision was made that I would receive my own foster care payments, keep my state medicade and move in with a group of college students in the area I had been living in placements in for years.

While my roommates were a great group of girls and did their best to keep me from getting myself into too much trouble, as sixteen and seventeen year old on a university campus I did a fine job of finding plenty on my own. While the decision to allow me independence was rare, if not unprecedented…I was in no way shape or form ready to face the world alone. I got myself into a lot of jams, I made a ton of mistakes and it took me YEARS before I even felt like I was treading water. And the day I turned eighteen what little support I had disappeared, as some kind of magic happens that day that makes one a responsible adult. It does not.

Legislation like this Fostering connections proposed here in Michigan could go a long way to helping foster children reach true independence and avoid many of the pitfalls that I myself and so many of us who have aged out of foster care find ourselves drowning in.

Please become an advocate for continuing support and services to foster children here in Michigan and your home state. We don’t stay children forever and we deserve a fighting chance for a stable future.

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