“I firmly believe: Once a Foster Care Kid Always a Foster Care Kid” – Kevin Y. Brown
As a result of conversations with many successful foster youth who have aged out of the system and created positive lives for themselves, below I’ve composed 10 priority habits of highly successful foster kids.
1. Build and Maintain Healthy Relationships:
One of the biggest myths for foster care children is that we are unsupported and must travel this journey alone. This is untrue. Understanding that building and maintaining healthy relationships can lead to a solid support system is key in efforts to achieve life goals and a family-oriented lifestyle.
2. Be Financially Literate:
In foster care because many experiences are temporary, foster children often generate concerns about survival and constant moving instead of developing life skills, such as how to become financially responsible. Many of the successful foster care alums whom I have encountered have developed the skills necessary to attain housing and necessary essentials for a decent life by diligently learning and enhancing financial literacy.
3. Take Advantage of Higher Educational & Vocational Opportunities:
Statistics from the National Math and Science Initiative project that by 2018, 63 percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy will require post-secondary education. In many cases, foster care children have the option to attend college, certificate and vocational programs without cost through state-funded tuition waivers. For those who don’t have tuition vouchers, there is the option to enroll in Debt-Free College Academy (www.debtfreecollegeacademy.com) to learn how to afford college and avoid student loan debt.
4. Find & Maintain a consistent stream of income:
When you can meet your basic needs, (i.e. - keeping a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food), you have more options to create opportunities for yourself (Maslow's Hierarchy). Successful foster care alumni understand that meeting their financial needs is a key to establishing a solid foundation for their future.
5. Know how to Secure Stable Housing:
According to the Jim Casey Youth Foundation, 1 in 5 foster care children will end up homeless. This is due in large part to a lack of knowledge about housing processes and policies. The lack of understanding is perhaps due to never having a feeling of permanency. Successful foster care children as adults are aware that the skill of securing stable housing is an essential skill to securing peace of mind.
6. Maintain a Health & Wellness Lifestyle:
Successful foster care children understand that no matter the amount of money, fame, or challenges they experience, they will not be able to accomplish much in life without their mental and physical health. We must be willing to make a daily investment in ourselves by using meditation, eating healthy foods, and exercising consistently.
7. Keep a positive Perspective: (Foster care is an opportunity, not a tragedy.)
Successful foster care children who view foster care as an opportunity vs. something negative that has happened to them are able to move forward. Living in many different homes, foster care provides one with the ability to adapt to different cultures and environments.
8. Strategic Sharing:
Deciding what, when, and with whom to share information can be a challenge for someone who has experienced trauma in the foster care system. In my conversations with other successful foster care youth, we have joked and come to the realization that foster care is a unique experience that is only 100% relatable to another foster care child. This being said, we must be mindful that sharing the details of our experience are not necessary, nor appropriate, in most situations.
9. Find Mentors Wherever You Go (especially after care):
One of the biggest myths is that you can be a self made woman or man. Though we may switch homes, schools and families, our mentors can be more permanent fixtures in our lives. As I’ve spoken with other successful foster care children around the world that has been their case. I have yet to meet one who has not been the beneficiary of a mentor. One of my favorite quotes is
One of the biggest myths is that you can be a self-made woman or man. Though we may switch homes, schools, and families, our mentors have a more permanent presence in our lives. Across the globe, so many other successful foster care children have benefited from mentorship.
“Success is determined by the dreamer, and achieved with guidance.”
– Kevin Y. Brown
10. Be Aware of Your Environment:
Successful foster care children understand that it is important to identify
environments and people that make them feel good and that are in alignment with their long-term goals. Spending time in places where you are celebrated vs. tolerated is essential to success. Choose your environment, family, and friends wisely, they will elevate you beyond your expectations.
Kevin Y. Brown is an award winning international motivational speaker, author, founder of www.debtfreecollegeacademy.com and host of the Create Your Life Series radio show/podcast. Listen & Subscribe: http://bit.ly/CYLSitunes
Follow Kevin on Twitter and Instagram @KevinYBrown