Independence Day

July 1, 2016 – July 4th. Independence Day in the United States of America. A day we joyously celebrate with backyard barbecues; parades through downtown; sparkling fireworks; and a sea of waving red, white and blue flags. While these celebrations provide a great opportunity to come together as family, friends and fellow Americans, they are most important in serving to remind us that our country’s independence was hard-earned and not to be taken for granted.

For a youth in foster care, the road to independence is also, all too often, hard-earned. For these young people, a solid education is the stepping stone to a brighter future and graduation is their independence day… which is why there was cause for great celebration when 50 of our local youth achieved that significant personal milestone in the past month; walking proudly across the stage to receive their diploma.

If ever an achievement deserved marching bands and fireworks, it is this. Through their hard work and perseverance, not only have these new graduates unlocked the door to a variety of careers and opportunities that would be inaccessible without that diploma in hand, they have beaten the odds. Consider this: While nationwide, it is estimated that only 25 percent of youth in foster care graduate from high school, and less than 3 percent receive a degree from a post-secondary institution, this year in Central Florida: 35 received a high school degree; 3 received a bachelor’s degree; and 12 received an AA or technical degree. This puts our region’s foster youth high school graduation rate at 59 percent and our post secondary graduation rate at 12.9 percent.

There is no greater responsibility than to help our kids succeed. Embrace Families works with our youth every step of the way to support their personal, professional, and academic success. Through programs like High School High Tech and the Legacy Mentoring Program, we work to provide the keys to independence that allow them to successfully transition into adulthood without fear of having to rely on others for financial support to meet their basic needs.

For youth in foster care, education is the key to their independence. With your help, we can continue to grow our graduation rates to new heights. With your help, we can give our youth a fresh start as they transition into adulthood. With your help, our youth can grow into self-sufficient, independent adults. Consider joining us in our efforts, and supporting our academic programs today. Our youth are worth it.