SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Some former foster youth are opening up about the time they spent in the foster care system.
They are now the experts giving advice and perspective to social workers and foster families.
In this Adopt 8, Marcella Lee tells us about California Youth Connection's Y.O.U.T.H. Training Project and how it strives to make life better for today's foster youth.
The acronym stands for Youth Offering Unique, Tangible Help.
"My main goal is to add value to people through my experience," said Jeremiah McWright.
Jeremiah says, as a youth trainer, he can advocate for those who follow behind him and lobby for new legislation.
"AB 12 was one of California Youth Connection's most famous achievements," said Jeremiah.
AB 12, passed in 2010, provides extended foster care from age 18 through 21, and it's helped Jeremiah, a student at San Diego State University, and countless others on their path to success.
"A lot of foster youth outside the state of California, where they don't have similar programs, have to constantly worry about where they're going to stay next, if they're going to renew their lease, if they're going to couch surf," said Jeremiah. "So that's one thing I'm lucky to have peace of mind about."
Sandra Pliego, who currently works four jobs and hopes to start community college soon, says she could have used more guidance growing up in achieving her educational and career goals.
"People ask you what you what you want to be, but they don't tell you where you should go, what you should apply to, what you should be involved in," said Sandra. "Especially as a foster youth, you don't have those parents checking in on you, getting you to do your homework."
23-year-old Jordan Sosa entered the system at the age of nine, after living homeless in a van with his siblings.
"It was a roller coaster," said Jordan, who admits he was a challenging foster child. "There were times I did run away, there were times I did get into fights. I was just... I really didn't know how to express myself."
But the Cal State Fullerton senior says a foster mom, who understood his bad behavior was caused by emotional pain, made all the difference in his life.
"She never stopped showing her love," said Jordan. "There were moments she would yell at me for doing one thing, but then she noticed I was feeling hurt because my mom didn't show up to the visit."
These youth trainers all say the kindness bestowed on them by caring foster families and social workers is something they will never forget.
"And that's what I want to hear, I want to hear that they remember us and we make an impact on them, and hopefully it's a good impact - that's our goal," said foster parent Kania Webster.
If you are interested in adopting or becoming a foster family, please call 1-877-I-ADOPT-U or click here to access the free orientation schedule.
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