TOLEDO, Ohio — May is National Foster Care Month.
According to the Children’s Rights, a children's advocacy organization, a significant portion of our nation's children are in foster care.
“On any given day, there are nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States."
KaTrice Perry, Director of Gateway Youth Development, was taken aback by the common fate of foster care kids.
“When I started reading the statistics and finding all the data it was very alarming that foster kids are more likely to commit crimes, they’re more likely to end up homeless, they’re less likely to have high school diplomas,” said Perry.
She was moved to help after meeting a 12-year-old girl in the library who asked to use her cell phone to call her case manager. She wanted to learn more about resources available for young people who are in foster care in northwest Ohio.
Perry realized there were not a lot of independent living options and she wanted to change that.
She founded Gateway Youth Development to serve young people ages 14 to 18. The focus of the organization is to teach life skills to these young people so they can live independently when they age out of foster care.
The organization also has two group homes where 8 teens have their own rooms and the organization is working to secure a third home.
On June 6 an eight-week life skills training program begins for all teens ages 14-18 called “Summer of Success.”
“I always say, 'idle time is the devil’s playground,' so having too much free time can lead to poor choices. [Young people] might not want to play football or basketball but they just want to come and learn how to cook dinner [or] get financial literacy classes.”
Perry understands the struggle some young people are going through, she too was once a troubled youth who worked to turn her life around.
“I was not necessarily a foster kid but I was involved with juvenile courts, I was fighting in school, getting suspended, all those kinds of things. I had to really make a decision about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”