This year there are 3.5 million students expected to graduate high school, a milestone each one of them has spent their entire lives working toward. But did you know that kids who have been in foster care are 50% less likely to graduate by the time they turn 19? Many foster children have spent years moving from one foster home to another, changing schools with every move and starting over each time.
Troy entered foster care at 15. By the time he’ll reach high school graduation he’ll have lived in five different foster homes and attended 4 different high schools. Too often they would pull him from his classes in the middle of the semester and he would be forced to start all over. He’d find himself in new surroundings, whatever support system he had created at his last school was gone, and his classes weren’t always the same ones he was enrolled in before he moved.
When he arrived at Palmetto Place in late 2015, the rest of the classmates his age were starting their final semester but he needed an additional year to make up the classes he had been pulled from. Already 18 and discouraged about being moved again, he was desperate for stability.
Troy is just one of the 10 seniors we have graduating this year. Some of them are currently in foster care, others are former foster kids who exited or aged out of the system and became homeless. Regardless of why our residents need a safe and stable environment like Palmetto Place, once they’re here they have access to after school and summer programs, individual tutoring and homework help, and a support system that works with the schools to help keep them on track.
We are so incredibly proud to attend each student’s graduation, to celebrate their hard work and to help them take the next step toward reaching self-sufficiency and independence. This fall we’ll be sending some teens off to college, others will attend classes at Midlands Tech and continue to live at our teen house. One young man will join the Army in June and another will jump into vocational training.
This fall Troy will move into the dorms at South Carolina State to study music education. For years he has played the trumpet in the school band, “No matter what school I was in, I could always pick up a trumpet and feel like I was home” says Troy. “Palmetto Place helped me get a trumpet of my own and I practiced every day. SC State offered me a band scholarship this spring and I realized the thing I loved to do the most could help me reach my long term goals.”
If you’re interested in showing our graduates how proud their community is of their accomplishments you can mail a gift card or check to P.O. Box 3395, Columbia, SC 29230. To learn more about Palmetto Place and the services we provide visit palmettoplaceshelter.org.