SAN ANTONIO, TX — Nearly 50 San Antonio-area youth attended BCFS Health and Human Services-San Antonio’s Mind At Work Education and Career Fair. The event, hosted by BCFS-San Antonio’s Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program in collaboration with the BCFS-San Antonio’s Texas Workforce Commission onsite liaison, invited area agencies to educate youth from the foster care system of the resources available for a stable and successful adulthood.
“The goal was to have everyone walk away with their college paperwork done,” says BCFS-San Antonio’s Program Director Deyanira Garcia.
“From their financial aid and college entrance applications to their education and training vouchers, we wanted them prepared for the next step in their journey.”
Representatives from the Alamo Community College District, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M-San Antonio, Gary Job Corps, Texas Workforce Solutions, and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services engaged with youth to explain the broad range of curricula, career paths, and financial aid available.
Jessica Lee Cawthorn, who aged out after six years in the foster care system, spoke to the youth in attendance about staying the education course and seeing the process through to graduation. Cawthorn recently graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in University Studies. On her graduation announcement, she asked family and friends, in lieu of gifts, to provide backpacks and other school supplies that she then donated to the youth at the Mind At Work Fair.
Her message to the youth was one of perseverance toward graduation.
Education defeats the cycle that a lot of kids in foster care find themselves in,” she says, “which is homelessness. Statistics show that many of the youth who age out often end up homeless, or they end up having kids that also end up in the foster care system.
Education (and getting a degree) helps to end those cycles,” she continues. “It helps get kids out of multigenerational issues. That’s what education does, it opens doors for youth.
Cawthorn also reminded youth in attendance to be sure to access the resources available for youth in foster care, specifically the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program, which offers youth in foster care various means of aid to pursue higher education or vocational training.
“Each year, we see a decline around this time when youth are not as engaged as other times of the year,” Garcia adds. “The fair worked to re-engage youth and encourage them to apply for their educational and vocational training benefits.”
Click here for photos from the Mind at Work Education and Career Fair.