A Chance at a Real Future
Emily is hopeful about her future, but she didn’t always feel that way. Right now, Emily has stable housing. Her daughter attends a high-quality preschool, and Emily has a close relationship with her adoptive father. Connecting with Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap program has helped Emily map out a future that looks nothing like her past.
Emily’s struggle began when she was a toddler. She and her brother were two of the nearly 5,500 youth placed in foster care each year. Her foster parents adopted Emily, her brother and two other children, but when they had three children of their own, everything changed. “All of a sudden, there were problems, lots of emotional issues. My parents’ marriage was crumbling. All of the adopted kids were sent away,” said Emily.
She began acting out, running away, abusing substances and she faced juvenile detention. At age 13, Emily entered her first treatment center. At 16, her adoptive parents relinquished custody, making her a ward of the state. She was homeless at age 17, emancipated and alone.
Emily started living on the streets, panhandling and selling drugs, as well as using. “I had nowhere to turn, and I was scared of being alone with no real future,” she said. In December 2010, she found out that she was pregnant.
“When I got pregnant, I knew I needed help. I quit drinking and doing drugs and I reached out for support.” Emily reunited with her adoptive dad, and Urban Peak helped her get off the streets. Nurse Family Partnership sent a nurse to visit Emily throughout her pregnancy and until her daughter, Amateal, turned 2. They also connected Emily with Bridging the Gap.
“Bridging the Gap helped me get back on track,” Emily said. “They are so supportive. The coaches believe in me and treat me with respect and compassion. They have access to so many services. Because of Bridging the Gap, I got a housing voucher, learned financial literacy and career skills, found a great preschool for my daughter, and have even learned how to advocate for myself and for all foster youth.”
Hundreds of other young people in the child welfare system in Colorado are unsure of their future. A fortunate 168 got help through Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap last year. Serving young people who were in a child welfare placement, including foster care, department of youth corrections or kinship care on or after their 16th birthday, Bridging the Gap serves as a lifeline for many young people with uncertain futures. Now, thanks to supporters like you, they have a real chance for success.
Emily is grateful that Bridging the Gap helped her set a new course. “I have a paid internship, and I’m interviewing for good jobs. I’m planning to start back at community college this Fall. I want to be a social worker so I can help kids like me who feel forgotten and abandoned. Bridging the Gap has helped me map out a future.”