News & Success Stories

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Guardian Scholar Flourishes with Mentorship and Guidance of Promises2Kids Program

Post Date:09/01/2023 6:06 PM

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Author Stephanie Oquendo, PsyD, Clinical Services Manager, Promises2Kids


Promises2Kids & Guardian Scholars

Promises2Kids, and the Guardian Scholars program, has expanded to serve the growing needs of foster youth in San Diego County since 2001. This means always evolving and developing partnerships that provide necessary opportunities. One such venture has been the creation of vital collaborations specifically for our parenting youth.

Katy – A Success Story

Katy, a single parent, and amazing Guardian Scholar with Promises2Kids has been with our program for over 5 years. Katy is 25 years old, Latina/Native American and one of nearly three hundred former foster youth served each year. She is in the 25% of the program that identify as a parent and is committed to her education and career goals. Katy entered foster care at age 9 with her siblings and lived in over ten placements and attended eight schools before graduating. During this time, she experienced mental health crisis, homelessness, and separation from her siblings.

Katy could have given up many times, but she found confidence and hope in academics and graduated high school. Fast forward to 2022 and you find she has earned her AA from Grossmont College and is currently obtaining her BA in Business at California State University Chico.

Over the years in our program, Katy has embraced change and flourished under the mentorship and guidance of her uniquely created team at Promises2Kids that cater to her challenges and goals as both a parent and foster youth. Katy has learned that her “circle of support” is what CAN and WILL keep her moving forward on her successful journey in life.

Networks & Community – Keys to Growth

As part of Katy’s plan to grow she joined two of Promises2Kids specialty groups this year - Latinx and Parenting Group. Foster youth often lose the chance to explore their ethnic heritage as they are separated from their family of origin. With Promises2Kids establishing the Latinx Group, Katy, and others like herself, discovered through Mentorship, what it means to be of this community. This group affords the occasion to interact with others that have faced similar challenges and are willing to teach how culture can enrich their lives.

Promises2Kids is a proud recipient of San Diego Foundation’s Healthy Families & Basic Needs Grants which has provided lifechanging aid to our parenting youth. Through funding with this grant, Katy was able to obtain childcare and car maintenance. She also attended the monthly Parenting Group, held at Tobey Wells YMCA, a community partner that shares the enthusiastic mission of creating a safe space for families. With the guidance of the Promises2Kids Clinical Service Manager and other parents, Katy became more informed about how to be a healthy and loving parent. She struggled to change her parenting style, but saw the positive outcome of implementing firm, consistent and age-appropriate discipline. Katy saw how she could be more easily triggered by her traumatic past that includes difficulties with trust and stability. But, as she has done her entire life, resisted the urge to give up, and transformed for the benefit of her daughter.

One reason Katy and other parents were able to join one of six specialty groups Promises2Kids offer was due to the “built in childcare.” Once again, we listened to the needs of our parents and partnered with June Care, a local organization where stay at home parents provide childcare for other working parents.

Asking for Help

Katy, who is an employee with Promises2Kids as a Youth2Youth peer mentor at A.B. and Jessie Polinsky Children’s Center, thrived in her job as the year progressed. But acknowledged the need for mental health support and took the brave step to seek services with the encouragement of her Guardian Scholars Coordinator. Thankfully Promises2Kids had been working in collaboration with YMCA Community Support Services – Behavioral & Mental Health and began the process immediately. As Katy participated in groups and therapy, she was able to find how her daughter could benefit from services and began counseling through her elementary school.

The Future for Katy and her Family

For former foster youth, the notion of being vulnerable with others can be one of the scariest prospects to imagine. With the opportunities that Katy took advantage of this year we know that she is already defying the odds and as she has told us time and again, “I will not be a statistic”. She WILL be one of the 8% of former foster youth that earn a college degree nationally and Promises2Kids will be there to celebrate her graduation.

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