May is a month marked by students celebrating academic feats and achievements. However, May is also National Foster Care Awareness Month, and for the more than 670,000 who spend time in U.S. foster care every year, the month of May can tell a very different story.
To “school” the nation on the challenges foster youth face when attaining their education, in and after their time in state care, Children’s Rights and FosterClub have today released a new spoken word PSA as a part of Children’s Rights fifth annual storytelling campaign, Fostering The Future.
Grammy Award-winning producer and Children’s Rights supporter Swizz Beatz explains, “Education in this country is a fundamental right for every child, but right now, we are turning our backs on our foster youth. We all need to do whatever we can to help make sure these kids’ voices are heard. They’re not someone else’s responsibility; they’re all of ours. Let’s foster their futures by really fostering their education.”
Adds Sandy Santana, Children’s Rights Executive Director: “As a society, we are failing thousands of our most vulnerable children. It is unconscionable that youth in foster care face multiple barriers to accessing their educations, and the young adults in this video know better than anyone else that changes must be made. We are honored to work with them.”
• Fewer than 60 percent of foster teens graduate high school by age 19.
• Only 4 percent of foster alumni go on to receive a college degree by age 26.
• The average reading level of 17 and 18 year old foster youth is 7th grade.
• 50 percent of foster youth become incarcerated within the first two years of aging out.
• 31 percent become homeless within the first two years of aging out.
• On average, they miss 5 weeks of school per year.
“This puts a face and a voice to a problem of which so many Americans are sadly unaware,” states Celeste Bodner, FosterClub Executive Director and Founder.“FosterClub is about helping to empower current and former foster youth to advocate on their own behalf, and this PSA does just that. It amplifies the voices and educational needs of a population that is rarely seen or heard.”
Eight of the nine individuals featured are members of FosterClub’s vast national network of current and former foster youth. Joining them is comedian and foster alum Monroe Martin.
“Look, trying to get an education in foster care is no joke,” Martin says. “And the first step to systemic change is raising mass awareness about the fact that the problem even exists. Storytelling, whether it’s through comedy or a PSA is the most effective way to do that.”
Children’s Rights’ 2017 campaign can be viewed by visiting FosteringTheFuture.com or by doing a search of the hashtag #FosterMyEducation.