Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m. on Ch. 5.1
Each year in New Mexico, about 100 youth in foster care will hit age 18. That means they are then defined as adults and lose most of the services they rely upon daily.
The outcomes for these youth are not good. In 2011 in New Mexico, only 25 percent graduate from high school and 46 percent experienced episodes of homelessness by the age of 17. Nationally, one quarter have attempted suicide. Girls are more than twice as likely to be pregnant by age 19. The annual cost per cohort among these young adults is estimated to be $7 billion, according to the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.
How can we ensure these young people have the support they need to succeed as adults?
On this month’s Public Square, former foster children talk about their struggles in the system and how it impacted their ability to be independent adults. Advocates talk about their work helping young people navigate the many paths out of the system to self-sufficiency.
Community leaders include State Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, Patrice Perrault, youth services bureau chief with Children Youth and Families Department – Protective Services, and Judge John Romero of the Children’s Court Division.
Join New Mexico PBS for a PUBLIC SQUARE, where civic dialogue takes center stage. Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE was provided in part by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. PUBLIC SQUARE is hosted & produced by Megan Kamerick.
Quotes From PUBLIC SQUARE Participants:
“I completely lost contact with friends, family, everything was taken away from me.”
~Lauren Huichan, Former foster child and youth advocate
“Biggest danger to adolescents in foster care is they have to be adults faster than they need to be adults. The biggest help for kids is to be a kid.”
~Jomo Z.M. Thomas, II, Clinical Director, Youth Development Inc.
“We need to see every relationship that child has as an opportunity, and work so hard to preserve it.”
~Liz McGrath, Co-Director, Pegasus Legal Services for Children
“We don’t think outside the box often enough. And I don’t believe the system encourages young people to be more vocal. We kind of put them in silos as though they were separate and different kids. They’re all our kids.”
~John Romero, Presiding Judge, Children’s Court Division
Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE was provided in part by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.