Only 58% of teens in foster care will graduate high school by age 19*. When peers outside of the system graduate at a rate of 87%, it certainly seems the odds are stacked against a child in care.
We are proud to report that many of our local CASA teens have beat the odds! Of the seven foster teens graduating with a diploma or GED this year, six have the support of a CASA advocate. The other regularly attends ILP (Independent Living Program) classes hosted by CASA at our Springdale facility.
Each of these young people has a story to tell. That story includes how many hundreds of days he has been in foster care. It includes the months of abuse she endured. It includes the location of every placement and shelter he lived in.
But, those are not the interesting parts of the story to us at CASA. What is interesting is how these young people have persevered. It is how they have not just survived but thrived amid difficult circumstances.
“Abandoned at an early age and alone, my child has been in DHS custody for eight years. Sometimes in the past she refused to get up for school or even to eat before dinner time. She has made an almost miraculous turnaround. I believe the difference was in feeling people care about her- the staff in the home where she lives, the DHS case workers and CASA. In her graduation speech, she thanked all the people who lifted her up and did not give up on her. I had tears in my eyes, just as I did when my daughter graduated from high school.”
-Janet, CASA volunteer since 2005
“Despite ten different placements (and subsequently, ten different schools) during her three and a half years of high school, my child was able to graduate high school a semester early, earn a 29 on her ACTs, and enroll in community college. Her perseverance serves as a lesson for us all.”
-Morgan, CASA volunteer since 2014
The adjective “foster” describes a child, but it doesn’t define her. These children prove that for us all. Congratulations 2016 graduates.
*Courtney, M.E., and Dworsky, A. (2005). Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth: Outcomes at age 19. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall Center for Children.