The transition from teenager to adult can be a time of uncertainty for many, but it’s an exceptionally critical time for foster youth who are aging out of the system.
At age 18, kids who have grown up in foster care without a stable support system are suddenly faced with dozens of big decisions that can set the course for their future. A San Diego-based organization called Just In Time for Foster Youth (JIT) is stepping in to help bridge that gap for hundreds of young adults in a powerful way.
Sal Terrones knows first-hand. He entered the foster system in San Diego County in the sixth grade.
“Me and my brother actually felt unsafe in the house that we were in so we went to seek help ourselves by going to a police station,” Terrones said.
Terrones bounced from in and out of the court system, and spent the most time with his grandmother in National City.
“As much as she wanted to help me, there was only so much she could actually help me with. So it was definitely very tough,” Terrones said.
Despite minimal support, Terrones graduated high school and started college at San Diego State University when he was just 17 years old. That’s where he was introduced to JIT.
At first, it was the promise of some the material things that got his attention.
“They’re going to give you a free laptop and a free printer and they’re going to take you shopping for your dorm,” he explained. But he soon realized that the connection the organization offered to him and hundreds of other foster youth was far more valuable than anything money could buy.
JIT Executive Director Don Wells said teenagers like Terrones face serious academic and economic challenges compared to their non-foster peers…