While June may seem far off, we have already started planning our Celebration of Dreams graduation party for foster children.
Graduating high school is not a given. In fact, foster children are much more likely to drop out of school and not graduate than their peers. The young people we celebrate every June worked hard to avoid that fate.
This is the 19th year we have held a Celebration of Dreams event. The event is a semi-formal celebration that features a dinner, speaker, music, certificates of achievement and gifts for the graduates. We not only honor them, but those who have helped them along the way: caseworkers, mentors, court-appointed special advocates and guardian ad litems, among many others.
In addition to celebrating their tremendous achievement, this event allows us to impart one last lesson: It is not about where you come from, it is about where you end up. They have all come from tough experiences – abuse and neglect that was to such a level they were placed in the child welfare system. But that does not have to define them; it does not have to be their legacy.
Celebration of Dreams is the start of what can be a bright future for these foster children. They have already avoided becoming a drop out statistic. Now, they must avoid the other statistics that often claim foster youth who age out of the child welfare system: homelessness, incarceration, mental health issues and other problems.
If the past is a predictor, we know these young people have what it takes to overcome and succeed.