We all know how important education is for a successful life. I am proud to say more than 30 of our foster children will receive their high school diplomas this year – not an ending, but a start to building a successful life on their own.
Some will go off to college, some to trade school. Others will look for jobs right away. We will continue to help some youth as they transition to adulthood, while others will want to do it on their own and ask to leave our care and supervision.
Whatever their next step, their high school diploma will serve both as a reminder of what they can accomplish and support for what they will accomplish.
In the case of a foster child, a diploma does not come easily. These are children who persevere through abuse or neglect, removal from their families and, sometimes, one or multiple school changes. Graduation is certainly not a given.
They deserve much celebration for reaching their goal. We will do just that!
Our 19th annual Celebration of Dreams event on June 7 is a giant party in their honor. The celebration includes semi-formal dress, a dinner, speakers, music, certificates of achievement and gifts for the graduates. The event will feature a movie theme as the 32 graduating foster youth prepare to be stars in the film called “Life.”
This is one of the highlights of my year. You can’t help but smile when you see their joy at being recognized. Some of them will not have another chance to celebrate or be celebrated. We try to make it a memorable night.
As director of an agency that served more than 20,000 children last year, I spend a lot of sleepless nights wondering if we are doing everything we can for our community’s children and their families. I want each and every one of them to be better off because of our involvement.
Foster care is always a last resort. Keeping families together is our number one priority. But if foster care becomes necessary, we want to provide the support they need to succeed. We have a Kids in School Rule program and a Higher Education Mentoring Initiative that can help with school success. Both efforts were born because we saw many of our foster children struggling with education. Education stability is key to any child’s success. In Hamilton County, we are committed to provide the needed educational support to help our youth and children achieve success.
But make no mistake: these young people graduated because of their hard work and determination. They have something special inside. They are driven and see a future.
That is exactly what they will need as they transition to adults, many of them on their own. The road is not an easy one. But for them, it never has been.