To bring up a child, from diapers to college, is an awesome responsibility.
The molding and shaping of an individual from rambunctious child to productive, responsible citizen, is a task not for the weak of heart, not for the timid, not for the selfish.
Sometimes, those who find themselves parents are not up to the task. Other times, children are robbed from their parents by tragedies.
Thankfully, in our culture, we have people willing to fill those all important roles. Foster parents — and foster families — fill a void like no other. Taking in a child as their own, nurturing them, caring for them, indeed loving them. All done to make a difference, to give that youngster at least a chance at a normal life.
Sadly, not all foster families mix well with their charges, and when the youth reaches adult age, they are set adrift — or chose a lonesome road with their new independence possible — only to be alone and in need once again.
It’s a good thing we’ve got people like Cielo Poloche watching out for them.
In Richmond County, an average of one to three young people age out of foster care each year. Many of them have no adult support system when they leave the homes in which they reside.
“They can choose to remain in our care until they are 21, and continue living with their assigned families under the condition that they either go to school or work full-time,” said Poloche, DSS independent living coordinator.
In a story by reporter Kelli Easterling, Poloche said that the decision to receive three more years of help is not as cut and dry as it may seem.
“To an adult, the logical choice would seem to be to stay with the foster family for a few more years,” said Poloche. “The truth is, they’re 18 and they’re inexperienced. They have no idea what it takes to make ends meet, and the relationship with the foster family might not be great.”
Poloche said many of these youth have missed opportunities for learning that most people take for granted. “They may have never had anyone explain how to balance a checkbook or budget.”
As the independent living coordinator, Poloche is able to assist with some funding to help young people get started.
“We can offer $1,500 per year until they are 21,” she said. “This can be used for the initial move, rent and things like that.”
Realizing that a meager $1,500 of occasional help through the year is not enough to get these young adults on the right track, Poloche often finds herself helping them meet important appointments by driving them there when they don’t have a ride. She finds herself teaching them how to balance checkbooks, dress for interviews, create resumes, fill out their taxes, apply for jobs and more.
“I’m trying to develop some ties in the community,” she said. “Stable people who would like to be a part of someone’s life and help steer them down the right path.” Poloche is looking for mentors, and more.
It’s a credit to Poloche that she goes above and beyond. If you’d like to help with a young person aging out of foster care, contact Poloche at 910-997-8446.