INSPIRE - Our Cause for December 2018

December 4, 2018


Foster children typically have little help after 18 years old. Only 4 out of 24 foster youth qualify for the governments AB12 extension program that helps them as young adults until they turn 21; just 3 short years after high school, and they are out on their own without having finished college and gotten stable. And during that 3 year time, the money still goes to the foster parents; not towards college or training or learning to live out on their own.


This is why so many foster children opt out of the AB12 program and become homeless rather than spending 3 more years in a foster home, that they feel keeps them tied down with little-to-no autonomy or growth, at an age when it is natural to be independent, and important to step out into the world. It is up to the foster parents to choose to give any money to the foster young adult, help pay for any college, training, a vehicle, auto insurance, etc…from those funds. This just isn’t happening. And what amount the foster parents do receive, is not enough to pay for all those things. Few foster parents choose to pull money out of their own funds above and beyond what the governments pays them. (We know this because only 6% of foster youth attend college, only 2% graduate, 25% end up in jail and 65% are homeless)


Those foster youth that do qualify for the AB12 extension often want to go to college and move out just like their friends who aren’t in foster care. They can only do that with organizations like INSPIRE who have the ability to help these young adults tap into their own AB12 money with resources that go beyond what the government gives. They provide these young adults with a semi supervised group home, much like a dorm room. But INSPIRE takes it a step further and helps homeless young adults who SHOULD have been in foster care when they were younger. These foster and homeless young adults need much more than financial stability and autonomy alone.


Anyone who has come from a solid stable home, knows that they were most likely not able to instantly go out on their own at 18, let alone 21, without help from mom and dad in some way; especially in today’s California economy and environment. They need guidance not only financially, but emotionally and mentally. Like stepping stones, young adults lean on their parents for advice and what steps to take on their way to adult autonomy. INSPIRE gives them these stepping stones. But they need help from people like us to support that process. My own 13-year-old looked at me the other day while we were hiking and talking and said, “You know Mom, I’m still going to need you when I’m older. I’m going to still need these discussions to help me make wise choices and talk about problems.” THAT is what INSPIRE does for these young adults who have not been given that gift that my son has been given.


One thing you need to understand is that most of these foster young adults have been seriously neglected and/or injured in mental, emotional, physical and even sexual ways that are damaging to their ability to function at an adult capacity instantly at 18 and 21. You and I might be able to do that if we had a good strong safe base in our childhood, but not them. INSPIRE gives them 5 years to accomplish goals in that direction, whether it’s college, a trade program, employment, learning to drive, buying a car, learning how to buy insurance, do taxes, make moral and ethical choices, etc…INSPIRE IS THERE! And because they are there, they are saving many young adults in Riverside County every year from getting sucked into sex trafficking, gang life, dysfunctional lives or jail.  I am so impressed by this program and their leading lady Kristi Perez. Not only is her heart in this, her head is. These young adults get sound logical advice as well as counseling, coaching and mentoring from a group of trustworthy caring adults that are modeling what these foster youth need, and now want to become.


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