Teen shows resilience through her life-long foster experience; shares how finally having a home and family impacted her life

Keanna, age 18, is sharing the story of her life-long foster experience with the hope of encouraging caring adults to welcome a youth into their home as well as inspiring other foster children. She tells prospective foster/resource parents about the positive impact they could make, “even if the stay is temporary, your relationship could last a lifetime.” Keanna is a youth Ambassador with Foster VC Kids, a program of Ventura County’s Children and Family Services, which connects teens and children with caring resource families who can provide a safe, stable environment for youth in care. View a video of Keanna’s insights about being a foster teen and needing a family to love www.fostervckids.org/teens.

Keanna knows about foster homes; since she was born, she has lived in 36 different foster homes and two group (congregate care) homes. She says that every birthday and Christmas, she “wished for a family.” On her 36th foster placement, her wish came true. “I wanted a home and family… I finally found one.” Despite the challenges she’s endured, Keanna offers words of hope to other foster teens that “it does get better. Don’t give up on yourself.”

Foster children and teens come into care when they have been exposed to abuse or neglect that impacts their safety. Foster VC Kids works to strengthen families by providing support and resources to reunify children with their parents whenever it is safe to do so. And when reunification is not possible, Foster VC Kids ensures the youth are placed with loving resource parents (foster or relative caregivers) who have the support to provide safety, permanency and quality care.

Judy Webber, Deputy Director, Department of Children and Family Services for Ventura County says, “We are about promoting family strengthening through relationships. Child protection is a shared responsibility for the adults involved with our families. Our work must be more about surrounding our families with adults who are committed to protecting the children through love and action.”

Last June, Keanna graduated from high school with good grades and is now is transitioning to adulthood. She credits her foster mom Miranda with teaching her life skills like how to write a resume, fill out a job application, and obtain a driver’s license. At Miranda’s home, Keanna says for the first time in her life “we ate dinner together like a real family. I thought that only happened in the movies.” Soon Keanna will begin college, again beating the odds for foster youth.

Now that Keanna is 18, she has elected to participate in extended foster care – legislation enacted with the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12) to support older youth as they transition from foster care into adulthood and independent living. Across America, foster teens face far more obstacles than their non-foster peers. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), growing support for extended care is substantiated by “new research on brain science and how trauma and frequent placements in foster care may affect early and adolescent development.”

The NCSL reports positive outcomes for youth participating in extended care beyond 18: double the odds they would be working or in high school at age 19 and are twice as likely to have completed at least one year of college by 21. For community members who have a desire to help youth in need, welcoming a teen is an opportunity to change a life by providing a loving, safe and nurturing environment during a critical time in a young life.

Visit www.fostervckids.org/teens to learn more.

About Foster VC Kids, a program of Ventura County’s Children and Family Services
Recognized as a best practice leader statewide in the family recruitment and support component of child welfare, Foster VC Kids provides resource families with ongoing support services, trauma-informed training, and mentorship to enhance the safety, permanency and well-being of Ventura County’s youth and families. Learn how Foster VC Kids is making a difference throughout Ventura County, www.fostervckids.org.