"Moving Foster Girls Forward"
Think.Love.Smart’s (TLS) mission is to use the organization to connect with foster girls across the Dallas metroplex to empower them through mentorship and education. We stand in solidarity with our foster girls, to encourage them to believe they are not alone in this fight to be productive, successful women and leaders. Their journey into adulthood is often met with many insecurities and challenges, but no matter how bleak their circumstances are, they are reminded of their strength, their power, their potential and show them many ways they can maximize their opportunities to have a bright future. Think.Love.Smart’s mentoring programs help foster girls overcome the challenges of many transitions by providing consistent, caring support and modeling of important life skills.
TLS will bridge the gap and assist in equipping our foster youth with the right tools to transition into quality productive, responsible, confident, and determined young adults, ready for positive participation in society.
THE DISAPPOINTING FACTS
Recent data indicate that there are over half a million children in our nation’s foster care system. Over half these youth are between the ages of 6 and 15, when the influence of positive role models and developmental support is critical. Every year over 20,000 foster youth age out of the system, losing needed services and entering adulthood whether they have the skills to do so effectively or not (Casey Family Programs, 2001). While many foster youth are reunited with relatives after a short period of time, 40% of foster youth remain in the system two years or longer.
In addition to the trauma caused by the disruption to their family and home environment, foster youth often have a wide variety of other serious emotional and physical needs. Many are victims of abuse and neglect. They may have trouble forming healthy relationships with adults and peers. Many suffer from chronic health problems. Older foster youth may exhibit substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, or involvement in risky behaviors. Academics and educational goals often suffer during out-of-home placement. Even the most resilient child can be thrown into a pattern of depression, self-doubt, and isolation when faced with the daunting world of foster care.
DID YOU KNOW?
3,000,000 reports of child abuse or neglect are made every year in the United States?
Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit a violent crime?
Annually 600 teenage foster children turn 18 & “age-out” of foster care with limited support?
40% of foster children are between the ages of 13 and 21?
50% of foster children drop out of high school?
It is estimated that nationally a foster youth change placements about once every six months?
50% of young women previously in foster care will become pregnant by 19 years old?
25% of young men previously in foster care will father a child by 19?
3 in 10 of the nation’s adult homeless are former foster youth?
On average, only 7-13% of foster youth enroll in higher education?
1% of former foster children earn a college degree?
Because of the disruption in their lives and the loss of support networks, foster youth need many things: a stable, safe home environment, advocacy and representation in legal proceedings, academic assistance, healthcare, and stable peer relations. But perhaps most important, foster youth need caring, supportive adults to guide and nurture them. This is where Think.Love.Smart™ can play a valuable role.
THE BENEFITS OF TLS MENTORSHIP
improve school attendance
decrease drop-out rates
child’s self-esteem and self confidence will improve
child’s ability to resolve conflicts will improve and aggressive behavior will decline
child will develop new aspirations, skills, and interests
child’s sense of community and connectedness will increase
child is less likely to be a victim or perpetrator of a crime
decreases chances of child of teen pregnancy and/or substance abuse
Yes, these statistics are shocking. The simple fact is that the children represented in these statistics did not choose to be abused. However, the statistics indicate that the abuse will have a life-long impact on these children. With intensive and direct help, TLS can counteract the effects the system and their previous experiences had on them.
Foster Care Statistics. Retrieved July 2, 2012, from Foster Club Website.
National Child Abuse Statistics. Retrieved June 29, 2012, from Child Help Web site.