“Foster Care Graduates”
“Graduation” is a positive usage of the American language that is equated with achievement. The Webster dictionary definition, “the award or acceptance of an academic degree or diploma.” The assumption is that an individual has earned the skill to prosper towards self-efficacy. It is the belief that an individual developed the necessary skills to succeed in specific situations or ability to accomplish a specific task. Yet, an individual who is vulnerable with less skills and underdeveloped abilities “graduation” is not an achievement, but the beginning of a hardship.
Young adults aging out of foster care with children graduating to Independent living is not an achievement. The disconnect and uncertainty of graduating to independent living without needed support, economically or socially, is a hardship.
The hardship of balancing personal and family responsibilities is not a skill learned graduating from dependent to independent. Many young adults, parents, with low education attainment, limited life skills and poor parenting skills are stigmatized as victims of their circumstances, unprotected and vulnerable. The desperation and silent cry for help are illnesses that, if not treated will lead to separation of families and the continuation of system dependency.
“ July 31, 2019 by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), nearly 6,700 youth became homeless over the course of 2018 — a rate of inflow even higher than that of adults...also approximately 29 percent of LA’s homeless youth come out of the foster care system. And at least 62 percent have been involved in the justice system (Celeste Freeman, 2019).”
Graduated youths are faced with limited options and desperation for survival that conformity becomes the norm called dependency. For many system conformity is equated with dependency, which is a continuation and recycling of generational enslavement. System policies and procedures institutionally shape and develop individual behavior and family functioning by controlling the distribution of resources and opportunities equating to conformity.
Social advocates campaigning against the economic and social injustice against Foster Care Graduates reinforces conformity by partnering with public welfare systems (Board of Education, Health and Human Services). The negotiation between the two is not of the Foster Care Graduates interest, but of their own. It is system conformity of power and oppression against Foster Care Graduates, and the privilege at controlling economic resources.
To offset and empower the quiet voices of “Foster Care Graduates” a selected few are chosen to liberate and unshackle a victimized population. We are “...no longer accepting the things..[we].cannot change…-[but] changing the things [we] cannot accept” (Angela Davis, 19). It is community organizing using cultural core values and beliefs including humanistic principles voicing that all persons are born dignified and worthy regardless of his or her gender, ethnicity and most importantly race. It is a given, a birthright, which cannot be oppressed by system conformity. Foster Care Graduates are Champions of their circumstances, visible and strong, unforgiving and unapologetic. It is the strengths of Champions that build communities one-day at a time, not system conformity!