Wake Tech program helps teens navigate life after foster care

Posted May 15, 2012

— It's the time of year when high school seniors are graduating, and many are getting ready to tackle college.

But for young adults leaving the foster care system, the rite of passage can be a challenge.

Nationwide, fewer than 10 percent of foster children enroll in college or a secondary school. Of those, only 2 percent graduate, according to Fostering Bright Futures.

The nonprofit is a public-private partnership at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh that works with the community to get more teens coming out of the foster system into college and graduating.

Started in 2008 by a local architect, Fostering Bright Futures enrolls five young adults a year and helps them work through their individual challenges of life after foster care – whether it be academics, finances, planning or something else.

The program relies heavily on business and individual donations to provide the help students need.

One of its biggest roles, says program coordinator Michele Blackmon, is helping young adults find transportation and housing.

Veronica Armstrong Program helps teens navigate life after foster care

Another part of the program is finding each student a mentor who helps with everything from developing a budget to developing life skills needed to live as an independent adult and getting the education needed to gain meaningful work.

Veronica Armstrong recently graduated from Wake Tech with a degree in criminal justice, making her the first to successfully complete Fostering Bright Futures – and the first of 12 siblings to graduate from high school and college.

Armstrong was placed in foster care at the age of 14 and was in and out of foster homes until she was 18.

"Once you reach the age of 18, you are responsible for yourself, and what you choose to do with that is your decision," Armstrong said.

At age 17, while still in high school, she moved out of her foster home, got a job and supported herself.

She later became involved in the Fostering Bright Futures.

She plans to continue her education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she will study international studies.

She says her future is looking bright. Crossing the stage at Wake Tech was good practice for crossing the next stage in her life.

"It was exciting, but to me, it's like a stepping stone. I'm not done yet," she said.


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  • cocilka May 16, 2012

    My wife and I are foster parent through a group called Grnadfather Homes for Children. We couldn't have children of our own and this was the next best thing. Best thing we ever did. We have a beautiful daughter who is 5 years old and we couldn't be happier. Its only epensive if you hire a lawyer and pay for everything on your own. With most organizations that allow you to foster then adopt the child, which is what we did, the most out of pocket expense is $65. If your looking to foster a child or foster to adopt a child I strongly suggest going to a DSS meeting and learning the facts. After that hook up with an agency like Grandfather Homes and let them share the love with you.

  • shortcake53 May 15, 2012

    I have always had a soft spot in my heart for foster children and would very much like to know how I can become involved with helping these young people who have been through so much already, find success in their lives. We had thought about bringing a child here to live, but we alreay have a grandson we are raising, and were afraid we would be taking on too much. Is there a way we can be involved with this program to help them establish themselves independantly?

  • sunshine1040 May 15, 2012

    Many children in foster care can not not be put in the system for adoption and why does it cost so much. one lawyers got to pay back their student loans someone has got to investigate to see if they can turn over any reson why you might not make a good parent. Many kids in the system do not have the basic education to pass a SAT test they were just passed on to the next grade with out anyone caring if they could read

  • working for deadbeats May 15, 2012

    I'd like to adopt. Why is it so expensive? I can only imagine the cost has deterred some people from doing it.