The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program allows youth from the foster care system to discover a way to a stable and independent adulthood through an investment in education or vocational training. BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio facilitates enrollment in ETV for youth to obtain state-allocated ETV funds for college tuition or vocational training.
With the help of ETV, Gypsy, a 22-year-old college student who spent time in the foster care system is studying to become a licensed psychologist with a concentration in criminal psychology. Her interest in these areas of study is partially driven by a desire to better understand her past.
“I’ve always found it fascinating why people, criminals particularly, do what they do; what leads them to commit those acts?” Gypsy asks, reflecting on her relationships with her parents and their criminal pasts.
From a young age, Gypsy and her younger brother saw firsthand the consequences of addiction upon both their parents. “My dad was in prison almost my whole life. My mom wasn’t originally a drug addict; but my dad got her on drugs; it got really bad from there.”
Gypsy remembers several visits and interviews with Child Protective Services, one time in particular when her father, after using crystal methamphetamine, “threaten to kill the CPS lady,” Gypsy recalls. “that is when they finally took us.”
Gypsy and her younger brother were moved to a group home until her grandparents, who Gypsy describes as “saints,” stepped in to foster and eventually adopt their two grandchildren. As a youth who spent time in foster care, Gypsy was eligible for ETV, which is administered by BCFS-San Antonio.
With the help of ETV, Gypsy takes classes at both San Antonio College and the University of Texas at San Antonio to maintain full-time status, a requirement for the ETV program. She is on track to earn her degree in 2020, and envisions a career as a therapist, criminal psychologist, or member of the FBI.
While she hopes her studies help answer some of the questions she has about her past, she is determined to become her own person. “People go through so many difficult things,” she says. “I think that that does not define you. I think it’s important to know that you can become someone completely different, and you don’t have to follow your parents’ – or even your grandparents’ – footsteps. You have to actually follow your heart. You can’t think that just because your parents are one way, or your siblings are one way, that you are going to turn out like that. You can always be better. You can be the person you want to become.”