Written by Kemesha (Clayton) Alli for the Never Too Late Newsletter
We’ve spent months apart from families and friends…and probably all mastered the art of social distancing! I felt the impact of the pandemic the hardest during this past Holiday Season. Not being able to travel overseas or even two miles across town to spend time with my loved ones was a disappointment. However, I understand that this is all in the best interest of keeping everyone safe, and healthy.
As a mom of three, and former Crown Ward, I often wonder how current children and youth in care are doing. Especially those who transitioned out of the child welfare system in the past year. How are they coping to life in a pandemic? The path to independence is challenging enough; now add on the evolving Covid-19 crisis.
Youth in transition from foster care often lack critical support networks and healthy relationships that are an important stepping-stone to independence. Looking back, its not until I aged out of care that I then realized that I was one of the few lucky ones to have found some form of permanency. My living environment and atmosphere was not built on a “Me” and them, but on “Us”.
My foster mom – a young black woman, was able to have open and honest communication with us, and we were all included in discussions without been concerned of the repercussions. I was then able to develop trust, work on my self-esteem, learn how to control my emotions, remain in school, and make and keep the right friends. I celebrated my 18th birthday comfortably, without the need, or urgency to pack my bags. I remained at the place I called home, with a family that saw me as one of their own.
Youth preparing to transition to independent living need support and guidance to help them be successful. They also need a strong connection with a supportive adult or family that is able to help nourish their social development, mental health, and physical and emotional well-being. The connections to community that youth develop are just as important as the resources they learn to access as part of sustainable social capital.
Speaking from experience, having a close support system was priceless, as I navigated the early stages of adulthood. No youth should struggle to find a community that reflects and supports their unique needs, and challenges!
Kemesha is a mom of three, wife, and entrepreneur. She is the Founder/CEO of Patches 360 Inc. A Social Enterprise non-for-profit - dedicated to providing independent communication consulting and social services to and for Children and Youth.