Youth Speak: Helping Foster Youth Through The Holidays

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This was posted on the California College Pathways website on November 14.

By Brianna Roberts, California Scholar

The holiday season is normally a time for joy, celebration, laughter and, family. For former or current foster youth the holiday season can be a time where we feel lonely, vulnerable, sad, or, a time when we reflect on what we do not have. California Scholars were asked the question, “As a foster youth how does the holiday season make you feel?” Here are a few of their responses:

“Even though my foster family was warm and welcoming, the holiday season has always reminded me of what I didn’t have and what I always wanted.” –Brianna O

“The holiday season has always been the hardest time of the year for me but because of my friends, they have made it easier.” –Allyson

“As a former foster youth I plan to ease my holiday breaks by giving my full time to all my relatives and loved ones as they are all my true gifts.”-Tommy D

“Holidays became about creating our own family, it is no longer about blood.”– Diane S

Here are five tips on how to overcome the holiday season and how to help foster youth and young people who experience the holiday blues:

1.      Ask your youth what are some holiday traditions he or she enjoyed with their family.

Perhaps you can incorporate one of their traditions or create something new together. Have a discussion with them about how they usually celebrate and how you and your family celebrate and try to incorporate some of their traditions to make them feel welcome and included.

2.     Call youth who formerly lived with you or who you worked with.

Holidays can be a tough time for youth to experience, especially for ones who have exited the system. They may have nowhere to go for the holidays, so that one phone call can make a difference.

3.      Explore your local community resources that offer holiday baskets, parties, gifts, or volunteer sites for youth to participate in.

It’s important to engage youth and help them feel included in all the festivities during this important time.

4.      Assist youth to purchase or make holiday gifts or send cards to their family and friends.

Help the youth send cards or small gifts to those they want to maintain relationships with.

5.      Understand if they pull away.

Understand that their detachment is most likely not intentional or an effort to be rude towards you. Rather it is their coping mechanism on how to deal with the season. Make sure to allow for some “downtime” for the youth to debrief and get away from everything.

California College Pathways provides resources and leadership to campuses and community organizations to help foster youth succeed at community colleges, vocational schools, and four-year universities.

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