Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, is quoted as saying, “We should never view our
challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for us to understand that our experience facing and
overcoming adversity is actually one of our biggest advantages.” Nobody knows about overcoming
adversity like our teens in the San Luis Obispo County foster care system. This past school year, there
were 30 high school seniors who were in foster care and we are very proud to report that our youth
graduation rates were 77% (23 students), a 3 % rise from last year and nearly 20 % higher than the state
foster care graduation average. Of the remaining 23%, 6.5% are continuing with special education
programs to work towards a certificate of completion and 6.5% are continuing to work on earning more
credits.

Of the 23 high school graduates, 21 completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and
many are planning to pursue post-secondary education. Our partner agency, Family Care Network,
operates an Independent Living Program for youth who are or have been in the San Luis Obispo County
foster care system. Their program had 33 high school graduates, of which 14 (42%) will be pursuing
post-secondary education as well.

San Luis Obispo County is not only proud of its High School graduates, but also former foster youth who
have graduated from post-secondary educational institutions. This past year we had four young adults
attain vocational certificates, two received their associate’s degree, one received their bachelor’s
degree, and one young adult entered the military.

Our agency strives to provide these youth with many opportunities for growth and development
through a variety of programs and initiatives. The tenacity and spirit of these young adults, having faced
the adversity and trauma that they have, are not only an inspiration to their families and the staff that
support them, but also to other youth who all too often come from similar backgrounds and struggles in
the foster care system. On average, when a child is placed in care or has to change placements while in
care, they can lose up to 4-6 months of academic progress with each placement disruption. These
disruptions occur with more frequency due to the lack of foster homes and the inability to place a youth
in their community of origin because of this foster home deficiency. Despite all the trials and hardships
these youth have faced, they have persevered and achieved academic success and we as an agency look
forward to seeing their progress for years to come. Congratulations to our graduating class of 2019. May
the road rise up to meet you and may you always seek out more of life than life lays at your feet!

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