Bakersfield teen formely in foster care mentors local teens in similar situation

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Peer support workers from the Kern High School District spent all day Saturday interacting with over 70 local foster teens. 

The program is apart of the 11th Annual Independent City event, which teaches teenagers who are in foster care about living on their own.

19-year-old Ines Gutierrez is a support worker who knows the struggle all to well. She was placed in foster care at 16 years old, after her father left home and mother had passed away. 

"I understand that many of the teens feel alone, because that's how I felt," said Gutierrez. 

Up until last year many foster youths were taken out of the system on their 18th birthday, but after AB12 was enacted in 2012 teens can now receive support from the city until they turn 21. Although, Kern County social workers said the transition from leaving care is still hard on many foster teens. 

"Foster youth typically don't have the support system that traditional youth do. Sometimes they don't have a lot of family support and they need to learn things on their own," said Jennifer Robbins, a social worker for the Department of Human Services. 

The event has been around for years, but what makes this year different is that teens that have been through similar situations are able to mentor the participants. 

"It makes it a little bit more exciting and more relatable to our youth because the peer support workers are closer to their age," said Jennifer Robbins.  

"Helping other youth going through what you went through or even worse is something I love to do," said Gutierrez.

The event was filled with different seminars for participants, including, a how to dress for success fashion show, money management course, and on your own seminars. 


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