At YMCA Youth & Family Services, we stand hand in hand with current and former foster youth on their unique journeys.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month, a time to center the voices of the unique experiences, challenges, and accomplishments of current and former foster youth and their kinship families. At YMCA Youth & Family Services, we stand alongside current and former foster youth, advocating for positive change in the child welfare system.

Supporting Foster Youth on Their Journey

YMCA Youth & Family Services offers a range of programs tailored to support current and former foster youth, as well as their kinship families. From housing assistance and mental health support to employment opportunities and relationship-building, our holistic and culturally-responsive programs provide the care, opportunities, and sense of belonging that every foster youth deserves.


Insights from a Program Participant

One of our remarkable programs, the Youth Resiliency Center, offers therapeutic coaching and support to current and former foster youth, equipping them with essential skills and tools to navigate life's challenges with resilience.

To shed light on the unique perspective and personal experiences of a former foster youth, we interviewed a program participant who offered valuable insights into the foster care system and the importance of resources and support for both youth and their kinship caregivers.


What would you like people to know about your experience in foster care?

I grew up in out-of-home kinship placements, but not formal foster care.

Just because you are leaving a place that you feel is home, doesn’t mean that you are alone. When you have to get up and leave, and you don’t know if you are gonna come back, or if you will come back. You are not alone. There is something for you. Don’t be afraid to leave a house so that you can eventually find your home. A home is a place that you make. It does not necessarily have to be a place that you are living at. 


How would you like to see the foster care system change or evolve?

My experience is different. But knowing how it goes, I know it is difficult to be in a place that’s not your own. Just because it was not a place that I was familiar with. I did not follow everything that my kinship caregivers did, but we did learn and grow. If you live anywhere, you are gonna take something from it. But when it comes to system change, provide more resources for not just the kids, but for parents also. They are literally inviting folks into their home. So that everyone has a better understanding of how to embrace everyone who might be put into the home. It was equally as stressful for them as it was for us. There were 8 people in the house. Resources for folks that are leaving their homes, but also for the folks who are opening up their homes.


Were there people, programs, or supports that were helpful during your time in foster care?

I was doing therapy through the Y. I know without the additional support, that me and my younger sisters would not have been able to process the loss. Or to process the day-to-day. Everyone in that house was in therapy whether it was through the Y or not. Go to therapy guys!


What piece of advice would you share with other youth currently in the foster care system?

Don’t stop trying to love yourself and put energy into finding out why you are not happy. Why something might feel wrong. Invest in yourself so that you can invest in other people and so that you can grow. There’s nothing worse than wasted potential. 


Is there anything else you would want people to know?

I just want to say thanks to the program. There are a lot of programs. I know that if it is making a difference in our lives, it can make a difference in other people’s lives. I am thankful for the program. My siblings are thriving. I know that without the additional supports, we would have never been the best versions of ourselves. I am grateful that I found someone, but especially this program. 


About YMCA Youth & Family Services

YMCA Youth & Family Services (YFS) is devoted to serving the San Diego community by addressing today’s most pressing social issues. We are focused on bringing about meaningful and lasting change in youth, adults, and families by ensuring they have a safe place to live, connecting them to critical resources, building them a reliable support system, and assisting them in pursuing their goals and dreams. To find out more about YFS programs and services, visit