If you Google the word “resilience”, article upon article of research and commentary will pop up. Lots of “How to’s” emerge on the screen displaying strategies to build resilience. These articles seem to provide access to wisdom at the click of a button, theoretically equipping people with the necessary tools to be resilient in the face of adversity.
This wealth of information, however, can be misleading. It is unrealistic to assume that young adults, particularly those transitioning out of foster care, can successfully cope with adversity on their own simply by throwing the word resilience on a screen in front of them and/or attaching the word to them as a population. Resilience involves managing trauma by truly acknowledging and experiencing the trauma without crumbling underneath it. Guidance and support is necessary to adopt better thoughts and behaviors and learn how to be resilient. Relying on the concept of resiliency does not equal a life free from struggle.
Youth aging out of the foster care system constantly deal with unimaginable stressors, and they often face these circumstances alone. The pandemic further introduces intense challenges and adversity for them, as it does for many of us. Now is the time to help youth learn about and cultivate resilience. As a potential guiding force, you can help to convert these negative situations into opportunities.
Click here to learn more about Mentorship and ways you can play an active role in making a resilient foundation possible for others.
It is estimated that 4 to 10% of individuals in the United States identify as LGBTQ+. However, nearly 20% of youth in foster care do, indicating that the LGBTQ+ population is significantly overrepresented within child welfare. For many of these youth, their birth families are unable or unwilling to provide safe homes for them. Some are kicked out of the house while others face abuse in all forms from their family members. In fact, it has been found that “an estimated 43% of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness are forced from their homes because of conflicts with their families about their sexual orientation or gender identity; 32% of homeless LGBTQ youth have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse at home over their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Unfortunately, the traumas these youth face at home typically do not end when they enter foster care. Youth who are LGBTQ+ report facing verbal and physical abuse because of their gender or sexual identity. Additionally, according to the Human Rights Campaign, 78% of LGBTQ+ youth have been removed or left their foster care placement because of hostility toward their identity.
This Pride Month (and every month after), we must put more intentional effort into being and doing better for youth who are LGBTQ+. Whether with their birth family or in a foster home, safety and stability should be considered the foundation of wellbeing, not an unattainable goal.
Humans have evolved to crave human contact through social interaction, but the COVID-19 world makes it hard to satisfy this need. Unable to see each other face to face, we turn to online platforms instead, like Zoom. And while Zoom may be satisfying our need to keep in touch, it's hardly satisfying our need for human touch.
Worse, our brains are actually having to work harder on Zoom, as natural body language clues for interpretation are missing. It is causing us to be impatient, cranky, and brain-tired. Add in the lack of deep connection offered by Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and we are all just craving human interaction, touch, and authentic connections.
Life in quarantine deprives us of the human connection we crave, but certain communities constantly struggle with an absent support system, before, after and during COVID-19. Youth aging out of foster care, for example, often live in a state of loneliness with limited connection to community, friends and family. When their lives are upended by neglect or abuse as children, they are taken into foster care and their primary contacts become social workers, lawyers and case workers. Their friends come into their lives and leave their lives more frequently than we can ever imagine.
Our mental health is suffering as a result of this pandemic, but the mental health of a young adult in foster care will suffer long after we are back to work and back to life in the post COVID-19 world. click here to learn more about Mentorship and ways you can stay connected with all members of your community.
The pandemic has skyrocketed unemployment rates, with more than 42 million Americans newly out of work or underemployed as a result. While all industries have been affected and employees at even the highest levels face layoffs or reduced pay/hours, certain sectors and groups of individuals have been affected disproportionately. This is particularly true for young adults (ages 18-24) without postsecondary degrees.
According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than 6.5 million young adults in low-wage jobs did not have and were not pursuing a post-secondary degree prior to the pandemic. Nearly half of them were working in industries heavily impacted by the statewide lockdowns. Think restaurants, hotels, retailers.
This means that millions of young adults are currently out of work, likely without savings. It’s hard to put anything away when you’re making the average of $10.22 per hour, or worse Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. And there is no guarantee that those jobs will come back. Many restaurants and retailers, including the big chains, won’t reopen. Those that do may be forced to restructure how they deliver services. That could mean fewer employees.
Now more than ever it is apparent that we must - as a society - examine the opportunities available to young people. We must address not only the inadequacy of pay in many employment sectors but also the accessibility of postsecondary degrees. While young adults with postsecondary degrees also face unemployment right now, their chances of recovery are greater.
The coronavirus has given us the opportunity to examine the structure of our society and the inequities and disparities within it. Now, we must take the next steps to find and create the solutions to help repair it.