Sara-Ann’s experience in foster care began at the age of 15 and continued until she aged out at 19. During that time, she was moved from home to home, seven times in total. Enduring abuse and instability, it’s no wonder she often felt like her own life was out of her control.
Toward the end of high school, she decided she wanted to pursue a post-secondary education. “I wanted to be able to put myself in a situation where there was permanency and where things were consistent and predictable. And I felt like going to university, getting an education, and getting a well-paying job would do that for me.”
After being accepted to Vancouver Island University, Sarah-Ann relocated to Nanaimo—moving straight out of her last foster home and into a dormitory. She was still a Crown Ward at the time, so her expenses were covered, but about a week before her 19th birthday her social worker from Port Hardy texted her the number of an Agreements with Young Adults worker in Nanaimo because she wasn’t going to be helping her anymore. “They’re supposed to have a plan to transition you slowly out of care and get you in touch with all these services so you’re not just going to be applying for welfare. And that’s not really how it goes.”
A tough transition
When she turned 19, all the government funding she had been receiving was cut off. “It was a bit scary trying to find my way by myself. I never really thought about budgeting or what I’m going to do next week when I don’t have anymore of my paycheque. I definitely went to the food bank more than once,” she remembers.
Although Sara-Ann has a network of other former youth in care who she can talk to, as well as friends and teachers she’s met at school, not having any family to call for support, or for simple things like, “how long to keep chicken in the fridge,” has been understandably hard for her. Add to that the burden of financial instability and you can imagine how difficult it would be to concentrate on school. That’s why grants like the Youth Futures Education Fund are so important. “Being financially stable is one of the things I can take solace in,” she says.
Financial stability leads to success
Currently in a Bachelor of Arts Major of Sociology, Sara-Ann has since decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Youth Care, which she’ll begin in the fall of 2017. “I’m really feeling like I’m actually in control of what’s happening with my life instead of things just happening to me like they were two to three years ago.” Sara-Ann plans to specialize in child protection, working with at-risk youth
Child and Family Development. With a promising future ahead of her, she wants to give back and help others who may be dealing with the same hardships she once did. To potential donors, she has this to say: “I feel like a lot of foster kids have been in the same position where we feel like the system failed us. And by contributing to this fund you’re giving a new hope to someone who thought they had nothing.”
(Photo credit: Gaelle Marcel unsplash.com)