It’s back to school month and many children in foster care face several challenges and fears surrounding their return to school. For children who have been removed from their family, home, friends and community and then suddenly placed in a stranger’s home and forced to attend a different school is extremely traumatic. Imagine the anxiety – like a force field blocking out logic, stirring up butterflies in the stomach and disaster in the mind’s eye.

School can be a constant reminder that they don’t have “true homes.” Foster children are normally two years behind academically, which can also create a lot of distress. Statistics tell us that 55% of foster children will drop out of school before they graduate. They are a big part of our next generation and this is a problem that we all need to figure out how to fix.

I think it’s important to create normalcy. It’s crucial for foster parents to be 100% involved with their youth’s schooling, for teachers to meet the child where they are academically without isolating them or making them feel different from the others, and for society to provide support programs and advocate on behalf of foster children to improve their education.

During our summer camp program, I realized again how much foster kids hate to be identified as “foster children.” They all long for the same thing – the feeling of belonging and being loved. As they’re dreading the idea of going back to school, this is the perfect time to make them feel special with new clothes and school supplies, and it’s also the time to mentally prepare them for the upcoming year.

Part of our summer program was to prepare our youth with study techniques and to help them understand the importance of education and striving for excellence despite obstacles. We discussed with them the power of the mind and that it will only take you where you want to go ­– so make an adventure out of it and dream big. We reminded them that they can do anything they put their minds to. We planted the seed of success in all our boys. Knowledge is power and it’s important for them to break the cycle that their parents or the generations before them have started.

We will hold all our youth accountable to get good grades this year. We will continue to provide tutoring, to follow up with all of them and to make sure they have all the resources needed to succeed academically. We want to expand our reach to many more foster kids as well with the goal of lowering that 55% drop-out rate. Our hope is that we can serve 50 more foster youth in South Dade this year.  We want to meet the needs of our youth and prepare them for greatness. Please partner with us and contact Milly if you are interested in making a powerful impact in the lives of foster you (404-985-3256).  Stay tuned as we continue building Genesis.