Coaching foster youth through their transition to adulthood
The statistics can feel discouraging. According to The Mentor Network, nearly half a million U.S. children live in foster care. When you ask them about their future plans, 70 percent say they want to go to college. But less than 3 percent graduate.
What happens in between? A dramatic shift in living circumstances that suddenly leaves many youth who were raised in foster care scrambling to support themselves, and in search of mentors who can support them in reaching their goals.
About 23,000 foster youth age out of the system each year — right at the same time that many want to start their college journey. While most young adults can ask parents or siblings about things like college applications, financial aid and survival tips for the first year, a lot of former foster youth don’t have those resources.
For those who do succeed in starting higher education, many have to deal with problems their peers will never face, like finding a place to live during term breaks when the dorms shut down.
Last year, InsideTrack partnered with FosterClub, a national support network for foster youth, to provide the coaching and mentorship that keeps college dreams in sight.
“Working with FosterClub and foster youth is core to our organization’s mission of unlocking potential and is a central part of our larger civic engagement initiative, Fostering Potential,” said Bobbie Godbey, operations manager at InsideTrack who supports the initiative. “In partnership with FosterClub, we support foster youth through hosting in-office career development workshops, support statewide foster youth retreats and conferences, and offer pro-bono coaching to 30-40 foster youth from across the country.”
InsideTrack’s developmental coaching methodology helps students develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs that prepare them to be successful in all areas of life. FosterClub students tell InsideTrack Coaches what they want to achieve, and coaches help them plot out the route — and stay on track — to get there.
Foster Youth Coaching Snapshot
Lois and InsideTrack Coach Felicia
In their year of working together, Lois weathered a lot of changes. She moved halfway across the country, switched schools and developed new relationships. One of the few constants was support from Felicia, her InsideTrack Coach.
“The resilience and passion I see within our foster youth truly inspires so many of us. The hope in their eyes and their commitment to change, to making a difference, only further underscores why coaching is such a critical resource at such a critical time in their lives,” reflected Felicia.
In their final session, Felicia and Lois celebrated all that Lois accomplished during their journey, identified the people and resources that will continue to support her, and reinforced how her new skills will help her succeed, no matter the circumstances.
Conversation edited for brevity.
Felicia: Let’s reflect and talk about the past year. When you think about coaching, what has your experience been like?
Lois: It’s been good. It’s helped me out a lot in the past year. It helped me make sure I stayed on the right track.
F: We started talking when you were graduating high school. You’ve gone through quite a transition. Talk to me about what you feel like you’ve learned through coaching that you can take with you as you move forward.
L: I’ve learned a lot about time management, that definitely helps. I know I’m really energetic!
F: What amazes me is that even with all that energy, you manage to stay focused. That’s a valuable skill, when you’ve got a lot going on and you’re meeting new people. To maintain that energy and yet maintain your focus in completing all of your stuff, that’s really commendable. What’s going to help you stay focused going forward?
L: I know what I want to study, and my grandma and my fiance help me stay motivated. And I would love to stay in contact with FosterClub. It’s helped me out a lot, and I think it’s going to help me out a lot more.
F: I just want to thank you for how engaged you’ve been, and how willing you’ve been to engage with me! You took the risk to put yourself out there. Thank you for trusting me, and for engaging in the work. You’ve done so much work this entire year!