The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Introduction: Finding Your Way to an Education
Represent Staff
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There’s the schooling ideal, and then there’s the reality. Ideally, a child is encouraged to believe in their potential and to learn and then goes to safe and stimulating schools through all the grades with their friends. Before their senior year, knowledgeable adults guide them through the college application process. They graduate at 17 or 18 knowing where they’ll go to college, or what job training program they will enter, and how they’ll pay for it.

That ideal is not what youth in care experience. As the author of "Derailed by Foster Care and Trauma" puts it, "Ever since I was a kid, there have been obstacles interfering with my education—constant moving, homelessness, foster care, sexual abuse, mental illness.” After several attempts at college, she enrolled in a nursing assistants’ program.

The author of "Is College for Me?" shared some of those struggles, plus, most likely, an undiagnosed learning disability. He had trouble keeping up with all the reading in college and opted for a vocational school. Both writers describe a preference for “hands-on” learning.

image by YC-Art Dept

Another theme running through the issue is how an adult cheering you on can boost success in school. Alesha Mohamed had a foster mom who lovingly nudged her to buckle down in school. Marie Alcis’s social worker acted as family when Marie went off to college.

The issue also provides lots of information about programs to help foster youth get into and stay in college, in New York and beyond.

Foster youth generally don’t have a smooth path through school, and those who succeed rarely do so in a straight line. The writers in this issue messed up, tried again, asked for help, changed their tactics and goals, and didn’t give up. We hope this issue helps teens and the adults who care about them navigate that winding road.

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(FCYU-2019-10-03)

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