Foster child needs 'better preparation' to age out

TEENS LEFT HOMELESS AFTER FOSTER CARE

DALLAS - More than 1,000 teenagers age out of foster care each year in Texas, many of them damaged and unable to succeed as adults.

News 8 profiled two young men, who claimed they were unprepared and left homeless after aging out of the system, shared their information with CPS.

We shared their information with CPS. Twelve days after the report, CPS responded. 

“I feel like they missed the point," Cedric Reid said.

Reid reviews the long list Child Protective Services provided to News 8 detailing the support and training given to him before he left the system.

RELATED: Harsh reality of foster children who age out of system

On paper, it looks like there was plenty of help to transition Cedric in to independent living.  He would disagree.

“All this (pointing to list) is just an object, unless you can encourage and show me how to use it and spend some time with me before I actually have to use it," Reid said.

CPS sent us a summary of the services both Cedric Reid and Nagee Walder received. The transcripts show both young men had meetings and discussions with staff during their preparation for Adult Living Training--or PAL class.

In Cedric's Case, it says more than $11,000 in voucher funds were spent to help him age out. The vouchers were for services Cedric says he initially didn't know where to find. That's why he ended up homeless.

We showed the list to Madeline McClure, founding executive director of TexProtects, the Texas Association for the Protection of Children.

“This is an example of the failure of the system. No child should be aging out of foster care to begin with," McClure said.

Children's Rights Groups have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the foster children of Texas given these outcomes.

“I don't think you can adequately prepare children to age out of the system when our preparation for adult living workers have caseloads of hundreds of children each," she said.

When we asked Cedric what a foster child needs to age out, he responded “better preparation."

Cedric, who is now a registered respiratory therapist, says we should not focus on pointing fingers but rather on solutions.

He says foster youth transitioning into adulthood need foster parents who are involved at home educating the children at an early age about basic life skills. Help them to find a job. Teach them to drive. And educate them about the resources available to them like government housing assistance.

“Wouldn't it be cool if they knew about that and knew how to use that before they even left foster care, so bam, you’re going from a foster home into your own apartment?" he said.

“Bottom line. What we need to do for these children is make sure we have PAL caseloads capped, ensuring that the PAL worker is working with the foster parent in the home with the child on a repetitive basis," added McClure.

At the end of the day, Cedric has found his own successful path but only through sheer will. He hopes this story sheds light on the urgent need to help give foster children their voice.

“All of us have unique stories that don't have good circumstances that led to us being in the system, and we want a fighting chance," Reid said. 

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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