May is Foster Care month. It is our hope that during this month, as a community we will be thinking of innovative ways to give our foster youth the tools they need to become contributing and successful members of society. The difficult issues that youth transitioning from the foster care system face is something we witness every day at The Maryland Foster Youth Resource Center. As young professionals and former foster youth, it is our belief that we all must be willing to step outside of our own thoughts and ideas and position ourselves to creatively provide tangible resources that will help our foster youth make successful transitions into adulthood.
Many young people are homeless, unemployed, and without a high school diploma or G.E.D. when leaving the foster care system. We have quickly realized there is not one solution to solving the needs of these youth, but there are many and they exist within the minds and hearts of our community. We have come to rely on the community to help provide services for these vulnerable youth. The state of our youth is dire, but we believe these young people have great potential; they are the future and deserve to have the same access and connections to resources as youth with family supports.
We urge the community to dispel the negative stereotypes and myths of youth living in the foster care system and educate themselves on what foster care really is and what they can contribute to touch and improve the lives of these promising youth. Some of the ways we can work to support these youth would be to:
- Work with landlords to lower the cost of renting properties so youth can afford them.
- Work with businesses in the community to offer paid internships and on-the-job training for foster youth.
- Work with local hotels to allow homeless youth to say in their establishment. In exchange, the youth would work in the hotel to gain on-the-job experience and have a safe and reliable place to live.