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Annonymous spent 7 years in New York's Foster Care System
A full-time student, employee, and volunteer, this college senior is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Social work at the University of Albany. While attending college, she works at a community-based organization, Interface Partnership for the Homeless, serving the runaway and homeless youth populations. As an Evening Case Manager and Activities Coordinator, she is responsible for providing case management to individuals currently residing in the shelter, initiating housing applications as well as other referrals for medical, psychiatric, or substance abuse treatment programs, and coordinating an activities program that serves as an effective means of therapy for those overwhelmed by daily obligations and models safe and sober activites to do in the community. Outside of her work with Interface and Partnership for the Homeless, she is an active member of her local youth board, Youth in Progress. For the past five years she has assisted YIP with many of their team’s initiatives such as dispelling negative stereotypes and creating better outcomes for youth in foster care by partnership with may OCFS workers. She took the initiative to develop and design the inaugural issue of YIP-B, the Youth In Progress Bulletin, and has been instrumental in the development of a questionnaire meant to provide foster youth with the opportunity to evaluate their foster homes. This person has organized multiple workshops for YIP’s annual Speak Outs, which are designed to allow youth in foster care to offer praise and constructive feedback to policy makers within a multitude of cross systems (OCFS, Dept of Education, Office of Mental Health, etc). During these Speak Outs, she and other youth organized workshops to reinforce the importance of life skills including budgeting, cyber safety, self defense, and obtaining a driver’s license/permit. Because of her contributions, she was chosen to represent foster youth at a nationwide commissioner's meeting in August of 2008 in Cincinnati, OH. She has spent seven years in foster care starting at age 12. After staying in numerous foster homes and a group home, she successfully transitioned into an independent living program that she stayed in for five years until aging out at 21. While she was in care, she had to cope with numerous obstacles. “I think the hardest thing for me was the fact that I felt that I had no family. I had a huge support system in my caseworker and other providers, but I felt as though I was missing something,” she says.. “Still, I am stronger young woman because of all the difficulties that I had in foster care. I also have a great support system and because of them, I have been given many opportunities that I may not have otherwise had.” After she graduates with her BSW this Spring, she plans to take a year off to focus on her current work in social welfare and then pursue an MSW. “I would like to dedicate the rest of my career to helping as many people as possible, especially youth in foster care,” she writes. “One small voice cannot be heard across the nation, but a couple hundred thousand can.”