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May is Foster Care Month

Did You Know?

Over 407,000 children and youth are in foster care

Just over 30% are placed with relatives 

Over 25,600 foster youth spend more than five years in foster care. 

WWU Did you Know stat 30%
May 5, 2022

May 9:  Financial Fitness 102

  • Maximizing Employee Benefits

May 11:  Financial Fitness 103

  • Financial Security

May 12:  Coach Approach to Mentoring

  • Training Session

May 13:  Changing Lanes

  • Auto Financing

Ricky’s Story

May is National Foster Care Month which recognizes the important role that members from all parts of child welfare play in supporting children, youth, and families. It’s also a time to recognize that we can each play a part in enhancing the lives of young people impacted by foster care. We hope that the stories we share encourage you to join us in bringing resources that help our participants become thriving individuals, like Richard “Ricky” Fuentes, whose story we share below.  

One of the most difficult hurdles to overcome when emancipating from foster care is financial security. One way this hurdle presents itself is when attempting to gain experience during college through internships – where many come unpaid.   This was the case for Richard “Ricky” Fuentes. Ricky is currently working on his Interdisciplinary Studies degree (with an emphasis in biology, communications, and psychology) at San Diego State University. His goal is to obtain a graduate degree that will allow him to work in the mental care field in hopes of starting his own clinic. Not having access to family members to support his dreams financially, Ricky often has felt hopeless, “Financial uncertainty is one major challenge. I don’t get paid much and the more I work the more my education suffers, so I find myself in a tight spot.” A higher-paid opportunity arose at his job over at MindBloom , a psychiatric psychedelic startup, but unfortunately was denied the role because of his lack of experience.  He is one of many facing this dilemma: Needing “experience” to get a job but participating in unpaid or lower-paid internships would cut into income. 

Ricky Fuentes Profile Picture
JIT Team and Ricky Fuentes

Ricky was determined to gain the skills needed and get his foot in the door, so he reached out to Joel Brierre, co-founder of Kolective – retreat center that facilitates 5-meO DMT treatment. Mr. Brierre shared with Ricky that an Integration Coach internship position would be opening but only those with coach training would be considered. Ricky quickly researched different organizations around town and found Being True to You offering integration coach training, but the cost of the program was way over his budget. Sanam Charlton, JIT Youth Service Coordinator, heard about Ricky’s dilemma and supported him through our Working to Succeed Service and was awarded a $3,500 scholarship, funded by the Swette Family, to help pay for his coaching program.  

Before getting connected to JIT’s Working to Succeed service, a coaching program was beyond Ricky’s reach.  Luckily he was connected with us and was thrilled to get the support, he shared, “By securing training and certification as an integration coach I can further my involvement and therefore my experience needed to transcend the many rungs of mental health and therapy.” This is just one of many lives being changed by the power of our services that our fueled by our community eager to help.  

May serves as Foster Care month as it raises awareness around current and former foster youth – youth like Ricky. His experience growing up in the system may have impacted him, but he makes it a priority to remain active with JIT to go above and beyond to ensure his past can’t define his present successes.  

In the News:

Earlier this week, Don Wells and Irving Chavez (video mistakes his name with Isaac) were featured on ABC 10 News, where they spoke on the current challenges foster youth face:

Looking to play your part?   

SDGE at Padres Game-small

Help transform a space into a warm first home for a former foster youth by donating new or gently used furnishings and home goods to Just in Time. Contact us at 619-218-8917 or myfirsthome@jitfosteryouth.org .

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