Approximately 200 youth emancipate from the foster care system each year in San Diego County, many with no support or plan in place to secure a healthy future. It is not uncommon to hear that these youth have moved about 15 times throughout their childhoods to different homes, schools and surroundings. South Bay Community Services’ Youth in Transition program helps current and former foster youth overcome challenges through housing, counseling, life skills, education and job readiness support. Laura and Jenny are just two of the 200 foster youth who are connected with these resources to help them succeed each year.
Laura moved to a group home when she was eight years old, and from there was fortunate to have been paired with her foster mother who she lived with until age 17. As she approached adulthood, Laura started to think about where she was going to go next. Her social worker recommended SBCS’ Youth in Transition program.
"I'm very independent but South Bay Community Services has been supportive of anything I need," Laura said. "Therapy, enrolling in school and applying for grants and FAFSA are just some of the ways SBCS has helped me."
When Laura was overwhelmed with a stressful job, she was nervous to quit because she feared losing her housing support. She said the SBCS team was very understanding and reassured her she wouldn't have to relocate.
Laura is now attending Southwestern College and studying to be a dental hygienist.
"Without South Bay Community Services, I don't know where I would be," Laura said. "I've learned to save money and have been able to attend school."
Laura also helped pave the way for more former foster youth to attend college when she shared her story with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who helped pass Senate Bill 150 in October 2019 to eliminate barriers to receiving Chafee grant financial aid.
Former foster youth Jenny grew up in several group homes. While she was in high school, she participated in SBCS' Independent Living Skills program and learned useful tips for studying, time management, self-advocacy and managing healthy relationships. Jenny continued to study hard and was able to graduate high school a year early.
After graduating, Jenny moved in with her grandma in Los Angeles and made plans to study for a career in the automotive industry. Unfortunately that didn't pan out, and Jenny’s social worker connected her with SBCS with the hope of moving back to San Diego. Jenny interviewed with our Youth in Transition team and was immediately welcomed into the program.
"When I moved into the Trolley Trestle transitional housing complex, I felt very welcomed," Jenny said. “The Youth in Transition team supported me through depression, helped me with my homework and made the holidays feel like I was with family.”
Jenny later moved out with friends and when it didn't work out as expected, SBCS welcomed her back with open arms.
"If I didn't have support from South Bay Community Services, I'd be homeless and school wouldn't be a priority," Jenny said. "I'm now attending Southwestern College as a business major with plans to transfer to San Diego State University."
Know a foster youth in need or someone interested in being a foster parent? Contact us at (619) 420-3620 for more information.