Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday everyone! Here are some of our favorite finds from around the web this week in the world of child welfare, foster care and more.

Favorite Article: Mentoring program helps former foster youth thrive. This SF Gate article paints a great picture of the realities former foster youth face when they go to college and highlights a fabulous scholarship program. This quote made us cry: "Guardian scholars are the ones dropped off on the curb by a taxi or a social worker," Sanchez-Zarama said. "Maybe they get a handshake or a pat on the back, and they are carrying what little they have in a Hefty bag or cardboard box, while everyone else is hugging their parents and waving goodbye." Come on, we can do better than this for our youth! Let's get them permanent connections before they go to college.

Favorite Fundraiser: SNBC's Sunset Soiree. A silent auction with a baseball autographed by San Francisco Giants star Pablo Sandoval, two hosted bars with wine from Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, a tasting from Social Kitchen & Brewery all in support of the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center? Sign us up quick! We're pretty sure those 25 dollar tickets aren't going to last long.

Favorite Idea: Making Prom Happen for Foster Girls. We've told you before how difficult it is for some foster teens to go to prom because the expense is not provided for in their government reimbursement. Glamour Gowns Giveaway from CASA in L.A. is a deluxe, two-day event that treats girls in foster care like queens as they shop for a free gown to wear to prom. Love it!

Favorite University Program: Youth in Foster Care Get a Chance at University Education.Way to go, University of Winnipeg! Full scholarships and living expenses provided for foster youth. Yes, please!

Favorite Funny: Raise your hand if you can relate to this dog duo.

Have a great weekend, all. We'll catch up with you next week. We have something HUGE to share with you on Monday.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Creating great fishermen, one teacher at a time

About the author: My name is Samantha and I am Aspiranet’s Program Manager for THP-Plus and HPRP in Fresno. For the last 1 ½ years, I have helped youth emancipating from foster care successfully transition to adulthood. I have spent my career as a social worker (15 years!), working with children and families who need help in healing, even though the task often seems giant and the hurt is incredible. Seeing a child get the chance for a better life makes the challenges seem small and the hard work well-worth it. You can connect with me on facebook or twitter.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.  Teach him to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” 

In the last 1 ½ years, I have been able to experience social work from a different view, working with young adults who have now left the foster care system and are now trying to make a life for themselves on their own in THP-Plus

The youth in our program are great!  They each have their own personalities, dreams, interests.  As social workers, our roles with these young adults are now more about guiding them in their newfound (sometimes daunting) freedom to make choices and decisions for themselves.  If you’re a parent or caregiver that has raised children and sent them out into the world, you understand what it’s like to watch them stumble and make mistakes, but come back to you for help.

I’m glad that we are starting to recognize that these former foster youth still need our help just like any other young adult learning and growing. We finally have programs like THP-Plus in place to assist.

Youth in the THP-Plus Program

Back to My Fish Story

Every day in this program, our youth face the same challenges in reaching their goal of self-sufficiency: 
  • Assistance in obtaining and maintaining stable housing. 
  • Learning the ins-and-outs of getting a job and then keeping that job. 
  •  Encouragement to further their education and get specialized job training
Do you recognize your own adult children yet?

Sometimes we feel frustrated when we encounter resistance or complacency with our youth. Truth is, we want to see them succeed in life just like we want to see our own children accomplish great things. 

When one of my team members presents me with the dilemma of how to get a youth motivated, engaged, and on a path to progress....and nothing seems to be working, I generally offer this advice: 

Sometimes a person wants to help himself, but he doesn’t know how to do it. 

He may feel scared, or alone, or hopeless.  When we want to help a young person to learn to help himself, we have to let that person know that we are here to walk right alongside him.  That means walking up and down the aisles of a grocery store and helping that youth to budget and spend his allotted amount of money for the month.  Or taking a youth down to an apartment, and sitting with him as he negotiates his rental lease. Then, getting on the computer together and helping that youth find cheap (or better yet FREE) furniture for his apartment. 

It takes extra work on our part to walk with youth in their transition from childhood dependency to the world of independent adulthood, teaching them how to “fish”.  But, when you show someone you care, an amazing thing happens…they begin to care more, too.  Because they know that they are not alone, they are not helpless, and even if they’re scared, someone’s there to support them. 

I encourage all of you reading this to lend your support to a young person making that transition to adulthood.  You can do that by visiting our THP-Plus website to learn about our opportunities to get involved as a mentor, volunteer or donor.

There are so many ways to help a youth learn how to fish. We just need more teachers.