Over 4 years ago I started working at BEST Kids and since then a lot of people have asked me what it is like to work with kids in foster care. Although I can’t share names I’ll tell them how proud I am of my “clients”, rattling off their accomplishments and highlighting some of the struggles they have overcome. Over the years I noticed that people have rarely asked how good their grades are or if they are headed to college. Instead they ask how they are doing or holding up or if they are being supported well enough. I don’t believe that they don’t think youth in foster care are more than capable of doing well in school or going to college but that when a family is split up the first thing a young person needs is stability. It made me realize that success isn’t always measured in the ability to move forward; sometimes it’s measured in the ability to stand still.
One of the most important things for kids is routine. All of the expectations for the next day, still being in the same house, still going to the same school, still seeing the same friends, all help them feel less anxious about the unknown and stepping out of their comfort zone. With youth in foster care the expectation is switched, their house, their school and by extension, their friends could all change with very little notice and every day is no guarantee that they will stay the same. That’s why I find the work at BEST Kids so important.
With everyone and everything coming in and out of our youth’s lives, we all work to ensure they get a mentor that will follow them from house to house, school to school, through foster care and even afterwards. One person they can count on to be there when they say they are going to be there. While all mentors want their kids to do well in school and go to college they recognize their need for a sense of stillness, peace and routine. They spend time with their mentees helping them step outside of their comfort zones amidst all their own unknowns to discover that there can be bigger and better things for them out there. Even when everything is unknown we work every day to make sure that our youth know a BEST Kids mentor is one thing they can expect to stay the same.
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