Every day, there are approximately 2,000 children in California waiting to find their forever home. Each year, about 22,000 of those youth age out of the foster care system without the support of a loving, stable family. For Celeste, moving from one foster home to another meant frequently changing schools, communities and access to any sustainable support systems. Celeste attended three different high schools, which isn’t an uncommon experience for youth in foster care.
“It takes a lot to know what you want,” Celeste says. “I didn’t really start to learn who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with my life until I came to Seneca.” It’s hard to believe that only a couple years ago, Celeste, a young woman with such energy and confidence was just an anxious high school student, trying to get along with her foster mother, worrying about her younger sister, and trying to stay connected to her biological mom. “When you’re in foster care, you’re not thinking about college or the future, you’re thinking about where am I going to have my next meal and is it safe to go back to my foster home.” Despite these challenges, Celeste had her sights set on college and Seneca was there to support her every step of the way.
Lillian Conboy, Celeste’s Support Counselor, believes that foster youth need to be supported but also empowered. “At Seneca, I was given the option to make my own choices, which is not something I have ever been given the option to do,” says Celeste. “Helping our foster youth have a voice in the process is critical,” says Lillian, who helped Celeste track down high school transcripts, edit her college essays and complete all her financial aid forms.
Celeste is now a sophomore at UC Merced. Majoring in Chemistry and Public Health, she hopes to practice medicine at a community clinic after graduating. In addition to pursuing higher education, Celeste is one of two former clients who has also become valued Seneca employees. Seneca creates pathways to support young people’s ambitions, regardless of the hardships they face. We are committed to building a workforce that is reflective of the population we serve and support. Welcoming Celeste as a part of the Seneca family not only enriches our agency but also allows us to better serve the youth we care so deeply about.
The myth that older children are not able to overcome their past, is simply that, a myth. Children are incredibly resilient and youth of all ages can heal and bloom when placed with patient, compassionate and loving resource parents. The Seneca team stands by families every step of the way with support tailored to the specific needs of the child, parent, and family as a whole.
Here at Seneca, we believe that no child should be considered unadoptable. And no child should age out of foster care without the support of a family. All young people need the love, guidance and support of caring adults as they transition into adulthood. And you can be one of those adults.
To learn more about supporting an older youth in foster care, please visit senecafoa.org.