May is National Foster Care Month, a time to acknowledge members of the community who help children and youths in foster care. The United States has approximately 424,000 children in the foster care system. Teenagers who age out of the system each year often face daunting challenges. Many do not graduate high school and experience homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration because they do not have the proper supports needed to help them navigate through early adulthood.
PRIDE Industries’ Youth Services Program partners with other organizations specializing in services for youth in the foster care system. PRIDE provides an employment services program that helps prepare youths for the workplace – the key to self-sufficiency. Components of the program include 90-day paid internships and one-on-one mentoring with PRIDE Job Developers. In the process, participants gain valuable experience to put on their resumes, as well as the opportunity to learn job skills and the pride of earning a paycheck. Cyndal is an intern at PRIDE Roseville currently going through the Youth Services Program. She has graciously shared her story with us.
Like many youths in the foster care system, Cyndal had a difficult past. Drugs and substance abuse were a habitual problem in her household. Due to domestic instability, she and her brother were placed in foster care while she was in middle school. Unfortunately, this seemed to make matters worse for Cyndal, who was unhappy with her assigned families and made several attempts to run away. She also dropped out of school and was in juvenile hall by the age of 13.
In order to help provide her with a fresh start, Cyndal was referred to Koinonia, a group home that provides rehabilitative services to youths in foster care. She is currently supported through social workers, counselors, and other staff members. She re-enrolled in high school courses, and has found that math and science have become her new favorite subjects. Rehabilitation participation includes a program taught by PRIDE’s Job Developers; topics include recovery from substance abuse, handling emotions, developing healthy relationships, and employment soft skills. Cyndal became a PRIDE intern in January 2014; she currently works two days a week at PRIDE’s Roseville location in manufacturing.
“I never thought that I would get a job. But they got me one!”
Once quiet and shy, Cyndal has become outgoing and friendly. Having an internship at PRIDE Industries has helped her develop practicable skills as well as self-esteem. On the production floor, she packages and inspects items for PRIDE’s customers. She is enjoying the internship, especially since she likes to put things together. However, when asked about the favorite part of her internship, Cyndal responded “having money-it’s so much fun!” The opportunity to have fun and socialize with fellow interns and co-workers is another perk that comes along with the job.
Along with her internship, PRIDE has provided Cyndal with a Job Developer, Andrew Palmer. PRIDE’s Job Developers work with youths as mentors. They assist with preparing a resume and job applications, training for interviews, applying to college, obtaining needed documentation (birth certificate, state ID, ect.), and securing interview and work clothes. Cyndal and Andrew aim to meet once a week. Recently, they went together to the DMV where Cyndal obtained her first California Identification card. Both agree that she has come very far emotionally. “I have learned how to show my emotions, respect myself and others, and that it’s ok to trust people” says Cyndal.
Outside of school and work, Cyndal has many different interests. She enjoys crocheting and assembling mechanical objects. One of her recent projects was putting together a Robosaur – a mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex. According to Andrew, Cyndal is also very talented at creating Lego sculptures. Around PRIDE, she is known for making friends easily with her bright smile and positive attitude. With a more stable and encouraging environment, Cyndal has flourished.
At 16, Cyndal has high hopes and ambitious plans for the future. She plans on attending community college and joining the Navy. She hopes to earn her bachelor’s degree and become a fashion designer. Cyndal is moving out of the group home soon and will continue her high school career while living with a new foster family. We wish her all of the best with her future!