Coloradans are getting used to a new reality. Because there are eight significant fires burning over 130,000 acres of land and destroying hundreds of homes, we’re living under statewide fire bans. Suddenly, things many people did without thought can have terrible consequences. The innocent days of playing with sparklers on July 4th, toasting s’mores over a campfire, smoking a cigarette outside are temporarily gone.
For many foster care youth in Colorado, this life in a tinderbox isn’t a temporary ban, it’s reality. The dry conditions that are making our land go up in flames are similar to their day to day reality. Rain usually provides a safety net for us. We can take minor risks like lighting sparklers without creating a forest fire. Similarly, most kids can take risks and make mistakes because they have a safety net. Without the rain, we have no room for error. Foster care youth live with this pressure daily but many haven’t been taught the life skills they need to understand the best choices to make.
Some of the hardest hit by these high pressure conditions are those emancipating from the system. In their first 2 years out of the system, the majority will either be incarcerated, become homeless, or become parents. A minority will graduate from high school and only 3% will graduate from college. Given the tinderbox these kids are living in, I am in awe of the few that succeed and am honored to be able to help some of them learn the valuable life skill of understanding money.
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