Many teens turn to mom and dad to help prepare them for the future. Kids in the foster care system may feel like they have no support to help them succeed. The state of Texas is working hard to raise well-rounded young adults.
Leroy Berrones, a former foster youth said, “Right now, I’m currently studying social work here at UTRGV. I got my first job here last month. I was hired by the foster care liaison.”
At first glance, you would think the 22-year-old is just your average college student. But as a former foster youth, he’s spent most of his years wondering what his true purpose in life is.
“I went to foster care for the first time when i was 10 years old. I still remember the exact date, November 15, 2005. It was very traumatic. I missed my siblings, they separate you. Sometimes you feel that you’re not a normal youth. You don’t feel supported.” said Berrones.
For years Leroy felt alone and he struggled with mental health issues. That is until he found the preparation for adult living program through CPS.
Alma Aranda with Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) said, “What we do is give them life skills training, and then we hope that we expose them to the community, like universities, so that we plant the seed for them continue in their education and hopefully be successful at it.”
If a child ages out of the foster care system, the state of Texas waives their college and tuition fees. As long as they’re enrolled at an in-state college.
“They can pursue a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD programs. All these kids of programs using that tuition waiver.” said Aranda.
While most may think a foster child is left to fend for themselves after their 18th birthday, the PAL Program works to ensure that young adult has someone to turn to for support until they turn 21.
Aranda added, “I want everyone to know that we don’t just kick them out the door and say sorry the case is closed, you’re now an adult. It is a program that we hope provides the support and services that they need.”