THE FOSTER CARE COMMUNITy
June is National Reunification Month, a month which recognizes the people and efforts around the country that help families stay together. Today we want to introduce you to one of the many parents in our program who is giving children a safe place to call home, and giving biological parents time to make the changes necessary to make their family whole again.
Cassandra is an amazing single mom who has welcomed an incredible 33 children into her home in her 10 years of fostering. “Fostering was always in my heart and on my mind,” Cassandra says, “even before my daughter was born–––way before I even got pregnant, I wanted to foster, possibly adopt. Something was always pulling at my heart whenever I heard the commercials or heard the ad on the radio stations. Agencies used to be at little community events trying to recruit people. I always stopped and was like, ‘I know I'm supposed to be doing this.’ So finally, when my daughter (pictured) was in seventh grade, and it was still heavily on my heart, I thought, ‘This is something I want to do.’ I have the calling, I have the heart, I have the love. So why not?”
Cassandra went into fostering hoping to adopt, but was open to anything. After her first placement’s case moved to reunification after three years, she shared, “I didn't know what to do. You don't know how to walk that walk because no one has taught you. You learn as you go. And so I just made the choice to become as close as I could to her mom. And she would allow it so that I could help her be a better parent and be successful in getting her child back.”
Over the past 10 years and 33 placements, Cassandra has not only continued fostering, but has also continued investing in biological parents.
"There’s no question. I'm not afraid anymore. I understand culture. Everybody's culture is different. Everybody's upbringing is different. And I think I understand more now that sometimes we have to help the parent in order for them to be successful with raising their children. Maybe they need another’s guidance. Maybe they don't know they're doing wrong. Or cannot comprehend what they're doing wrong. Sometimes they just don't understand.”
Over the years, Cassandra has welcomed children for anywhere from a few days to several years, and sometimes as many as six children at one time. However, she has decided that it is time to take a break from fostering for now. “This is actually going to be my last year. I want to take a break––I may come back, but right now I can say that it's a break.” In reference to her current placement, she shared, “I've been praying about it. And I was like, maybe I'm supposed to adopt her. So, I put in to adopt her, so we'll see how this goes. I think I'm getting ready to adopt. That's weird, I've never adopted before. But, she's my very last child and she's been here the longest.”
Did you know that more than 20,000 youth in the United States age out of the foster care system every year – and only about 50% of these youth will graduate high school?
This is just one of the metrics we are closely monitoring in our Dare to Dream program, and we are so proud to say that we currently have a 100% graduation rate for youth in our programs. 🎓🎉
We believe that having an education, as well as a positive role model and mentor who you can talk to, are two keys to success that every youth in care should have – because the opportunity to pursue your hopes and dreams is something that every youth deserves.
Today we would like to introduce you to just four of our youth who have worked incredibly hard to achieve this accomplishment and are now high school graduates! They deserve to be celebrated BIG time!
We are so thankful for the amazing foster parents, Love Box leaders, and Dare to Dream mentors who walked alongside these youth, and cannot wait to watch their journeys unfold.
If you would like to leave an encouraging message for our graduates, comment below!