A Student’s Perspective on Foster Care

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MAP is currently preparing to lead Catholic Youth Advocacy Day 2012, on March 20th! We are expecting a large audience of 500 students, and are excited to share our work with attendees. Below is an article written by MAP member Melanie Mascarenhas, inspired by Asm. Jim Beall’s efforts to reform our foster care system. Be sure to check our blog every week leading up to the event for more articles about different local and global sociopolitical issues.

A college diploma: the program that allows an aspiring young adult to have the opportunity to make their dreams into a reality.

At a glance, college seems fairly accessible. There’s financial aid for the economically disadvantaged; there are scholarships available for the enterprising student and college fairs and college counselors and entire websites wholly dedicated to college.

And yet, there are those who, at the end of their fourth year of high school, do not go on to a collegiate institution. Specifically, only 2% of individuals in the foster care system proceed to earn a college degree (Peterson). Why? Because those in foster care often spend their childhood bouncing from home to home. As a result, they often do not have a solid academic foundation and miss quite a bit of school. Furthermore, foster children often aren’t able to make full use of the tools available to them. Growing up with no constant parental guidance makes it unlikely for the average foster child to have someone to turn to for assistance and support with the stressful and strenuous college application process.

Aside from their background, foster children’s’ futures are hindered by societal labels placed upon them. The common ideas that foster students “can’t earn a college diploma” and “are intentionally underachieving” are undoubtedly disheartening to a foster child looking into attending college (Peterson). After all, priorities, personalities, and people are shaped and influenced by outside sources, community included.

What really needs to take root into foster students’ lives is affirmation: showing foster students that they can earn a degree, that they can go to graduate school if they so desire, that they have potential and the ability and resources to fulfill it. Foster students simply need to have the chance to go out and do great things. They need someone to believe in them and their abilities just like any teen. They need society to stop the judgment and start to see them not as needy foster kids but merely as kids who need a chance.

Blog article written by Melanie Mascarenhas.

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