Foster care youth who are aging out of the system learn how to manage life amid COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 12:14 AM, Apr 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 03:14:57-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Californians continue another week following the state's stay-at-home order, as the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases rises. State and local offices have changed how they do business, but the foster youth who depend on their services and are aging out of the system said they face an even difficult time because of the pandemic.

"It's affecting me and a lot of other foster youth. Just not feeling like we had that solid support, not feeling like, we can manage all these things because it is, it's stressful," said Deashanay Robertson, a foster care youth who is aging out of the system.

Similar to Robertson, foster care youth aging out of the system now have to navigate life with limited resources because of closures due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Well it's been a hectic, because being in foster care, you're already facing a lot of instability as it is just being in the system," said Fabian Tolan, a foster care youth who is aging out the system.

According to the Kern County Department of Human Services, foster youth over the age of 18 will continue to receive resources such as Medi-Cal eligibility, free technology options, assistance with food resources and financial support per AB-12 requirements.

However, the opportunity for foster care youth to connect with their peers and participate in programs geared toward helping foster care youth with resources such as finding a job, Tolan said is no longer an option.

"I'm concerned about, and I feel like a lot of other foster youth we're going to be aging out while this is happening is that my initial plan was to head out to job corps because I didn't want to be homeless and I told myself I didn't want to end up on drugs, selling drugs or in prison," said Tolan.

Officials with the Kern County Department of Human Services said all children within the foster care system will continue to have access to tele-health for mental health services and in-person help is provided as needed.

The Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services is continuing to provide support 24/7 on their crisis hotline at 1-800-991-5272. The California Youth Crisis Line is also providing support, at 1-800-843-5200 or you can text the crisis line with a text "youth" to 741741 to speak with a counselor.

For an entire list of local resources provided by the Kern County Department of Human Services for local foster youth, click here.