Whether it’s something trivial like tying a shoe or something major like choosing a college, most children have their parents to turn to whenever they need help. However, for kids in foster care, that parental support is often not there. In the case of Sophia Orama, a New Jersey Foster Care (NJFC) Scholar, she had to be the one providing support.
With an alcoholic mother and an absentee father, Orama was forced to become the caretaker of the household. “I stayed with her [my mother] for many years because I was the one that was taking care of her,” Orama said. “It wasn’t until the time that I was 16 and I was a junior in high school and I was like, ‘I got to start thinking about myself,’ because college was coming up.”
According to the LA Times, Los Angeles community colleges, roughly 44,000 students are struggling with homelessness. Housing costs for students are a problem across the nation, but for foster youth the crisis can be made worse if they are not adopted or their foster families are not supportive.
Reporting on the issue, the LA Times spoke with former foster youth Myriah Smiley, 19, who had her food stamp supply cut off when she received a welfare check. Forced to resort to couch surfing as she studies and dreams of opening her own bakery, Smiley said she’s often forced to go hungry: “I cry at night and hope for better days.” Smiley’s story is not an unusual one; according to a University of Wisconsin Hope lab study, 29% of former foster youth attending community college nationally are homeless.
While most of her peers were worrying about earning a place on the soccer team, making new friends and passing the next algebra test, Kristine Gunningham was facing far bigger obstacles.
First, her parents separated. It was difficult for Kristine to come to terms with the idea that her mother and father might never be together again. But what happened next was still more traumatizing.
“Shortly after my parents separated my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer.” Kristine said.
Nothing could be more devastating for a 14-year-old girl. Continue reading
There are two things you can do when life throws its worst at you – give up or survive. Against all odds, Kaitlyn Radauscher chose the latter; she graciously shared her foster care success story with us.
When she was 16 years old and a sophomore in high school, Kaitlyn lost her father to suicide. Devastated, she was unable to turn to her biological mother for the comfort and care she needed. She had to move out of her home and in with her aunt and uncle. It was then she became a foster child.
“When I first went into foster care, I wasn’t happy about it,” Kaitlyn says. “I never imagined my life to turn out the way it did. I was a little bitter inside because none of my friends had to deal with the same stuff I did.”
Despite the tragic change in her life, Kaitlyn continued to stay positive by surrounding herself with loved ones and continuing her routine of hanging out, going to work and attending school where she continued to excel. Continue reading
Increased Awareness Of Challenges Faced By Homeless College Students Leads To Action
When many of us think of college, we may envision a Saturday football game, grueling examinations, a sunny day on the green or perhaps graduation. Have you ever thought about attending college and being homeless? Unfortunately, today this problem is more prevalent than you may have ever imagined. Continue reading
Ten years, one decade, 3,650 days of service is a great reason for celebration. Recently, Foster and Adoptive Family Services (FAFS), The Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) and the New Jersey Foster Care (NJFC) Scholars Program held a celebration at The Professional Center in New Brunswick, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the NJFC Scholars Program. Over that period, hundreds of young men and women in foster, adoptive and kinship care were able to attend colleges, universities and trade schools with the assistance of this special program.
State Officials Turn Out To Celebrate New Jersey Foster Care Scholars
In attendance were Allison Blake, PhD, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF); Mary Jane Awrachow, CEO of FAFS; Tara Rizzolo, FAFS Director of Scholarship Programs; Kara Wood, Director of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency; Fran Gervasi, FAFS Director of Education and Training; graduates, current scholars and various guests. The event theme was “Red Carpet – Starring the Scholars.” Continue reading