Fedcap Washingtonians For Children Youth Attend Inauguration
Foster care alumni from Fedcap Washingtonians for Children and other DC, Virginia and Maryland programs witnessed history – and their own potential futures – as attendees at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The 30 young people, all college students or recent graduates, overcame enormous barriers – and odds – to reach higher education. While 70 percent of foster youth say they want to go to college, fewer than 10 percent enroll and only 3 percent of those students graduate. Almost half of foster care alumni are unemployed at age 21, and rates of teen-age pregnancy, homelessness and incarceration are high.
Here’s what they had to say about today’s ceremony:
- “This inauguration defined opportunity.”
- “Seeing the President and his family in person was so inspiring and made it all seem so much more real.”
- “The fact that it was the second term of an African-American President and that it landed on Martin Luther King’s birthday brought tears to my eyes.”
- “Nobody, absolutely nobody, can stop us from achieving what we want.”
“These young people represent the future leaders President Obama referenced in his speech, the people who will carry on the fight for ‘a more perfect union,’ and especially the fight to change the story for their brothers and sisters in foster care in America,” said Roque Gerald, Director of Fedcap Washingtonians for Children, which partners with the DC Child and Family Services Agency to ensure that youth transitioning from foster care enter college and graduate.
“This President is an inspiring illustration of breaking through barriers to achieve greatness,” he said. “We are so proud to have shared this day with the amazing youth we serve, and to be helping them to reach their own full potential.”
Gerald partnered with Anne Holton of Great Expectations in Virginia to arrange tickets to the inauguration, after which the group was hosted at a lunch by Casey Family Programs.
“I am thrilled to be enjoying Inauguration Day with these formidable youth and Great Expectations staff,” Holton, wife of Virginia Senator (and former Virginia Governor) Tim Kaine, told the group.
On any given day there are 575 youth in foster care between the ages of 12 and 17, placed there through the Child and Family Services Agency, the child protection arm of DC government. Of these, 135 are age 17, and will leave foster care within the next several years. Most have been living in foster care for well over 4 years. When adolescents live in foster care for any length of time—it impacts their lives--forever. They have a hard time finding a job, they rarely go to college, many end up homeless, pregnant and stuck in the cycle of poverty. Washingtonians for Children is committed to helping youth go to college, graduate and become employed.
We believe that the solutions to helping youth in care go to college exist….we just need to put them into action….
Investing in a new future for youth in care will pay dividends of exponential growth. This is not someone else's problem it is ours. If we don't pave the way to adulthood for children who have been abused and neglected, who will? There are many ways that you can invest your time, talent and money…
States around the country are increasingly investing in youth in foster care….with exciting results …