On any given day there are around 400 thousand children in the US foster care system, the majority remaining in care for an average of two years while six percent may remain in the system for five years or more.
Once a child reaches the age of 18 they are ‘aged out’ of foster care and instantly become homeless.
The ages between 18 to 21 young people take their first steps into adulthood, going to college, starting work and may stay at home until they can afford to move out. Most importantly, they will have the support and guidance of family who care about their well being.
Sadly, the opposite is true for teens aged out of the foster care system. Of these, 60 percent of young men will likely be convicted of a crime and only one of every two will be employed by age 24.
0. Hi Mr Guy Bryant. Thank you. 1. Tteam, get around Mr Bryant and all those he raised Forever. Thanks. pic.twitter.com/Tk3uPEbzLV
— Starte Christ (@Christalso) August 7, 2019
The 2017 National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI) statistics show that 23,000 teens will age out of the US foster care system annually.
Fortunately there are compassionate and caring people who step up to the plate to provide stability, security and support to these young people to enable them to develop personally and professionally.
Guy Bryant, 61, from New York, knows the impact a good home can make in a young person’s life. Bryant worked at the New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services for 32 years and the welfare of young people is not just a job.
"Youth aging out of foster care—especially LGBTQ youth—are at high risk of experiencing homelessness. More than 40% of youth aging out of the child welfare system experience housing instability within 2 years of leaving foster care." https://t.co/nAyeLjqWYs#EndHomelessnessDC pic.twitter.com/3MH1myv1ja
— Greater Washington Community Foundation (@communityfndn) August 6, 2019
Over the last 12 years Bryant has fostered over 50 young men, drawing from his own community based upbringing.
Bryant told The Huffington Post about the love he has for his many foster children:
‘’The Mr. Bryant approach is I love you regardless. You could become a brain surgeon or you could be a bathroom cleaner — it doesn’t matter.
Once you come into my home and you’ve been with me and you’ve been here, you’re my kid for life. That’s my approach. You’ll always have a bed to come to, a shower to take — you’ll always be able to come home. This is home.’’
Bryant fosters youths from New York agency Rising Ground, established in 1831. He has no plans to retire from fostering and enjoys spending quality time with his children.
Bryant spoke with The Huffington Post about the importance of establishing bonds with his foster children, whose past experiences may have made them distrustful as adults:
‘’The difficult thing about building trust is their past interactions with adults. If I can get you to engage in conversation with me about how you’re feeling and what’s going on, then that right there, my job is done.
They constantly need to be reinforced that ‘I am here. I am going to do what I say.’ My kids will tell you whatever I say, I’m going to do for you, I always do it because I don’t want you to look at me like one of those adults who let you down.’’
Guy Bryant, a 61-year-old foster parent, has helped raise over 50 young men in Flatbush, New York, over the past 12 years. pic.twitter.com/Q3UFCSINe9
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) August 6, 2019
The focus of Bryant’s work with the Administration of Children’s services is through a program called Supervision to 21 which finds young adults between 18 and 21, providing them with service such as housing, employment and access to health care.
In 2007 one of the young men Bryant was working with asked him to be his father, and thus began his journey as a foster parent, opening his heart and home to the young man as well as his friend and the friend’s brother.
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