“A lot of the things that you should learn growing up from a parent – most foster parents don’t offer that.” These words come from a young man whose time in foster care spanned more than 30 different foster homes. Getting more specific, he describes, “You might never figure out how to get a job, fill out a resume, what the work clothes look like from a foster parent.”
I’ve heard similar reflections from many others who grew up in foster care, as well as young adults in other countries who grew up without consistent, caring adults in their lives. Media accounts and well-intended compassion tends to focus on the “big” hurts children face – physical harm, sexual abuse, severe neglect. But for many, it often is the “little” things that add up to the biggest life challenges – never learning about flossing, the fact that cars need both gas and oil to work properly, or what’s appropriate in a job interview.
A short video from Washington Post TV offers a brief glimpse into this reality, with a focus on the challenges faced by many former foster youth as they seek to transition into adulthood and work. Watch “From foster homes to the working world” below.
It’s painful to consider how many small yet vital lessons — ones that children tend to pick up with little thought within a healthy family — are lost to many foster youth and orphaned children. Yet there is an invitation here, too. It’s these little things – the type of simple lessons any caring adult can share, often simply by example or in the context of casual conversations – that can often make an outsized difference.