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How Can Connecticut Help Youth Who Are Aging Out of Foster Care?

"Being in 14 schools and nine different homes, it's not easy to trust people."<br><em>Eddie Rosa</em>

The child advocacy group Connecticut Voices for Children has issued a report aimed at building and improving permanent relationships for youth in foster care.

Healthy, lasting relationships are critical for all young people, but they can be hard to come by for children in foster care. "Being in 14 schools and nine different homes, it's not easy to trust people," said Eddie Rosa, 17, who lives in a foster care home in Bridgeport. "It's hard for me to trust the [foster care] parents, who are trying to teach me things."

The issue is especially critical for children like Rosa, who are close to "aging out" of the foster care system. Without a support system of adults, mentors, and family, these young people are at greater risk for homelessness, poverty, and unemployment, according to Connecticut Voices for Children.

Connecticut Voices for Children has issued a host of recommendations to help solidify lasting relationships for these at-risk youths. "Because Relationships Matter" focuses on programs to developed and sustain relationships with siblings, and better services and support for foster care and adoptive families.

Credit CT-N
Kelsey Ward talks about her experience in foster care.

The report also recommends ways that social workers and attorneys can be a stabilizer for foster children, by including them, when it's appropriate, in court proceedings that pertain to their future, and reducing the case load for social workers so they can spend more time with their foster care clients, an issue important to Kelsey Ward, 17, who has been in and out of foster care for three years.

"I wasn't able to build a relationship with [the DCF case worker] because he's so busy with his case load, or he doesn't have time to come see me, because he has to go to this kid's house, and do this with this kid," said Ward.

The Connecticut Voices for Children report was presented at the annual "Youth at the Capitol Day" at the legislative office building in Hartford.

Watch CT-N's footage below of the forum:

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series “Where Art Thou?” Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of “Morning Edition”, and later of “All Things Considered.”
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