Former Foster Teen Keanna knows about foster homes; since she was born, she has lived in 36 different foster homes and two group (congregate care) homes. She says that every birthday and Christmas, she “wished for a family.” On her 36th foster placement, her wish came true. “I wanted a home and family… I finally found one.” Despite the challenges she’s endured, Keanna offers words of hope to other foster teens that “it does get better. Don’t give up on yourself.”
Last June, Keanna graduated from high school with good grades and is now is transitioning to adulthood. She credits her foster mom Miranda with teaching her life skills like how to write a resume, fill out a job application, and obtain a driver’s license. At Miranda’s home, Keanna says for the first time in her life “we ate dinner together like a real family. I thought that only happened in the movies!
Now that Keanna is 18, she has elected to participate in extended foster care – legislation enacted with the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12) to support older youth as they transition from foster care into adulthood and independent living. Across America, foster teens face far more obstacles than their non-foster peers. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), growing support for extended care is substantiated by “new research on brain science and how trauma and frequent placements in foster care may affect early and adolescent development.”
The NCSL reports positive outcomes for youth participating in extended care beyond 18: double the odds they would be working or in high school at age 19 and are twice as likely to have completed at least one year of college by 21. For community members who have a desire to help youth in need, welcoming a teen is an opportunity to change a life by providing a loving, safe and nurturing environment during a critical time in a young life.