Youth in foster care prepare for adulthood at "Independence Day"
On Wednesday July 2, youth in foster care gathered at the University of Texas at San Antonio for the 15th annual Independence Day youth conference for workshops and informational sessions aimed at preparing them for adulthood and independence when they age out of foster care. The conference, hosted by BCFS' San Antonio Transition Center, included a college and career fair, four experiential workshops showcasing positions in multiple career fields, and a youth panel of alumni to discuss "Life after Foster Care."
"For many youth in foster care, aging out of the system can be a scary and uncertain time," says Terri Hipps, executive director of BCFS' Community Services Division. "Too often, when they turn 18 years old they're on their own trying to navigate college, their first job or first apartment without the traditional family support system to lean on. Our annual conference helps equip them for that transition toward independence."
Approximately 100 youth were in attendance, as well as volunteers and 16 of BCFS' community partners including UTHSC-UT Health, Metropolitan Health District, and Alamo Community Colleges. The event was sponsored by the University of Texas at San Antonio, Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) Mexico Center, and Full Force Foundation.
Many of the workshops focused on inspiring youth to pick a career field and commit to working hard to find a good job. Professionals from the fields of healthcare, public service, arts and science came to discuss educational requirements and healthy expectations about joining the workforce.
"During the 'Life After Foster Care' panel, several youth who went through the system and emerged successful, spoke about their struggles learning how to stand on their own two feet after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home," says Tramelle Jones, BCFS' Texas Workforce Advocate who helps youth find gainful employment. "It inspired the youth to hear they can take control of their future, stay focused, and work hard to achieve their dreams."
The theme for this year's conference was "Become a Super Hero," because according to Gayle Spencer-Davis, the associate executive director for BCFS' Community Services Division, the youth need to "learn the super power of flying forward towards a successful future regardless of their past."
BCFS' San Antonio Transition Center serves youth in and aging out of foster care, as well as other young adults facing challenges like homelessness, poverty, or those recovering from physical and emotional abuse. The center is a "one-stop-shop" that provides youth counseling, case management, and assistance with education, employment, housing location and medical care.
To learn more about the BCFS San Antonio Transition Center, visit www.DiscoverBCFS.net/SanAntonio.