We surpassed our National Foster Care Awareness Month First Annual Pack A Backpack Drive™ goal by collecting 46 backpacks filled with personal hygiene items to teen males in foster homes, group homes, and homeless shelters during the month of May 2012. Thanks to our amazing donors, the backpacks were donated to KidsPeace, Prince George’s County Department of Social Services Independent Living Program, Hearts & Homes For Youth, DC Family and Youth Initiative and KOBA Institute, Inc, in the Washington Metropolitan area. Brooke Boersma hosted a drive on the west coast and delivered 10 backpacks to Creative Alternativesin Turlock, CA. Please our Pack A Backpack™ page for more information.
We are grateful to our generous donors. Thank you:
Today we continue our National Foster Care Awareness Month blog series on teen males with the interview of another foster father with KidsPeace. Bob O’Connor and his wife Coco have been foster parents for 23 years. They have had short-term placements, long-term placements, and provided therapeutic foster care and respite care. They have been foster parents to about 10 males. Currently there are 2 teen males and 3 children under the age of 4 living in the home. Mikey has been with the family for 10 years. Mikey will turn 21 and age out of the system at the end of the month. Mikey’s biological sister aged out of care last year but is still with the O’Connor family. Both earned IEP diplomas. Nick is 18 years old and has been with the family for four years. He is interested in mechanics and will earn an IEP diploma. Bob knows that life can be tough for youth who age out of the system without support. He says he has never put anyone out and believes that there is great benefit in New York allowing youth in therapeutic foster care to remain in the system until age 21.
Dorothy Cordero has been a foster mother for many years. I interviewed Dorothy and her foster son, Chris, for The Teen Toolbox National Foster Care Month blog series on teen males in foster care. Chris has been a part of Dorothy’s family for six years. There are two other male foster teens living in the home. Dorothy is passionate and compassionate. She epitomizes motherhood.
When asked about her experience with foster care in her home state of New York, Dorothy said it has been “great so far”. “I have been able to help kids succeed in life and provide a loving, nurturing home for them,” she continued. Chris agrees. Dorothy and Chris have a very good relationship. Dorothy took Chris in with open arms despite the foster care file that preceded his arrival. Chris has stated and Dorothy believes wholeheartedly that there were reports in his file that were untrue. The pair was only able to discover the untruths through open communication. They have bonded, respect each other, and even completed each other’s sentences during our interview.
Chris Nixon has resided in the home of Dorothy Cordero for the past six years. They were referred to me through KidsPeace, a private charity dedicated to serving the behavioral and mental health needs of children, families and communities. I interviewed them together for The Teen Toolbox National Foster Care Awareness blog series on teen males in the foster care system. Because both of Chris and Dorothy had such great insight and were hopeful their story would help other families, I will share their stories separately.
Chris will age out of foster care when he turns 21 years old this June. He decided to remain in care after age 18 so that he could receive continued support while working and attending college. As I was sharing my purpose for dedicating our May blogs to teen males (and possibly preparing to share statistics) Chris unexpectedly shared with me that “youth who exit the system at age 18 are at higher risk of ending up homeless, in jail, or much worse.” Obviously, Chris is very driven and did not come to the decision to remain in care without careful consideration. He believes that choosing to stay in foster care instead of exiting the system at 21 allows youth extra time to achieve the goals that they otherwise might not be able to achieve.