Vol. 15, No. 2 May 2011
"How our caregivers can help us succeed as adults"
In the last issue we asked young people in foster care what the best gift they ever gave was, and what made it such a good gift. Here’s what they had to say.
—John McMahon, Editor
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by Lauren, age 17
I describe LIFE as Living, Independent, Fun, Everlasting. Yes, unfortunately we all are going to have struggles and days where we need a helping hand.
For one, my caregiver can help me with budgeting. Budgeting is a very important thing to look forward to and know about. You need to learn how to budget and pay your bills. Learning to spend your money wisely is good as well. And you should want your credit to look good when buying a house, car, etc.
For two, my caregiver can help me choose the right college for me and [help me understand] how a college program works. Something nice to do is go and tour a college that’s in your best interest....
Third, teach us about making sure you go to your appointments. And learning how to set up your dentist appointment, eye appointment, etc. Missing your doctor appointments is not great at all because you want to be healthy. If you have insurance or Medicaid, don’t abuse it.
Fourth, teach us RESPECT and how to control our attitude, rude comments, negativity, etc. Because you will get nowhere in life if you have a negative personality towards others. No one would want to hire you for a job if you are negative towards any and everyone.
Overall, basically, our caregivers can help us learn and achieve a lot until our independent adulthood. Our caregivers are a big help to us and we should appreciate their help.
Lauren’s essay won first prize, for which she was awarded $100.
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by Leon, age 16
Remind the young adult to keep God in their daily walk. Next, the caregivers should always give that young adult all the support that they can....The caregivers should remind them that things may not work out as planned but to hang in there through all the curve balls that this old tough world will throw at them....
Teach the young adult about finances before the young adult leaves home: budgeting, saving, keeping good credit, managing money, etc.
One of the vital things for parents not to do is try to rule the young adult’s life. Life is all about trial and error, so the young adult will make mistakes sometimes, but that’s how we learn—on our own.
Just because we turn 18 doesn’t mean we’re gone out of parents’ lives forever. Remind them that college, marriage, and grandkids come after that.
Never, never abandon the young adult. The world starts with family and it’ll end with family.
Leon’s essay won second prize, for which he was awarded $50.
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Christina, age 10
I will soon have to leave foster care and start my independent life as a mature adult. When that day comes I won’t ask much from my foster parents, but what I will ask of them is to support my future decisions and to share all the times we had together....
They took me under their wing and taught me so many things. The most important thing was that: you’re only as tall as your heart will let you be, and you’ll be as small as the world will make you seem! I learned that you don’t have to be blood relatives to be a family. I’ll take their advice and use it to pursue my dreams and conquer my fears.
Christina’s essay won third prize, for which she was awarded $25.
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How My Caregiver Can Help Me Succeed
The young people below each received $15 for having their letters published.
The best gift I ever gave someone was love, because it’s unconditional and unspeakable and people are really happy when you give and show them love. They respect you more, because loves shows respect, peacefulness, and happiness.
—Talik, age 12
In the seven years that I have been in foster care and all the homes I’ve been in, a foster parent said something that made me realize I can be anybody I want to be as long as I keep trying and don’t give up. That parent said, “You can’t change the past and erase the pain but you can change your future and prove to people that you can become more of a successful person than they said you would be.” She showed me the love I needed to keep moving, she helped me look for jobs, helped me manage my money, and took me to see different colleges. A person that cares about you will take their time to help you succeed—all you have to do is listen and apply the words of encouragement and wisdom that they offer to you because nobody that cares about you will tell you wrong. Just remember: never give up!
—Arlene, age 17
My foster mom can help me with my work to be prepared for college. She can be there when I need something. She can teach me how to be responsible. . . . When I can’t understand my work, she helps me. She can cheer me up when I’m sad. And she can teach me the facts of life. She always makes sure I’m safe. When I grow up she can teach me how to be a responsible adult.
—Luckeya, age 10
She can help me with my school work. . . . She can teach me how to count money, and cook, do chores in my house. She can teach me how to be cautious, and respectful, careful. . . . She can teach me the facts about the world.
—Diamond, age 9
What can caregivers do to help me succeed? Help me get my anger out and all the stress I have about what I went through in my life with me seeing my mom, sister, and brother go through a whole lot. I just want to see my mom not going through all the pain without me there. I want to get help with my mood swings . . . . I want to get all the help I can.
Give me support, knowledge, and help me accomplish the short-term goals . . . . Support doesn’t just mean saying “I’m here for you.” It means you take the time to listen to the child and his or her hopes and dreams and goals and figure out what you as an adult can do to help them move closer to that.
—Porsha, age 18
Fostering Perspectives Summer 2011 Writing Contest
First Prize: $100
Second Prize: $50
Third Prize: $25
If you are under 18 and are or have been in foster care, please send us a letter or short essay in response to the following:
Did you ever act in a way that was really challenging for your foster parents? What’s the best way for parents to handle this kind of behavior?
Younger children are welcome to submit artwork on this theme/topic as well.
Deadline: August 2, 2011
Anyone under 21 who is or has been in foster care or a group home can enter. E-mail your submission to email@example.com or send it via U.S. Mail your entry to:
John McMahon, Editor
Jordan Institute for Families
1459 Sand Hill Rd., No. 6 (NCDSS)
Candler, NC 28715
Include your name, age, address, social security number (used to process awards only, your confidentiality will be protected) and phone number. In addition to receiving the awards specified above, winners will have their work published in the next issue of Fostering Perspectives. Runners-up may also have their work published, for which they will also receive a cash award.
Were Also Seeking Artwork and Other Writing from Children and Teens in Foster Care
Submissions can be on any theme. Submission requirements described above apply. If sent via U.S. Mail, artwork should be mailed flat (unfolded) on white, unlined paper.
Copyright © 2011 Jordan Institute for Families