BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern County Department of Human Services is partnering with a new nonprofit to help the foster care children in Bakersfield. As 23ABC’s Kallyn Hobmann shows they need your help.
I don’t know about you, but growing up I definitely needed guidance from my parents when it came to things like learning to cook or applying to colleges. That’s the kind of support foster care children sometimes lack but one nonprofit is working to change that.
Allison McClain is the president of Bakersfield Angels, a local chapter of the nonprofit National Angels. On their website, the National Angels say their mission is to walk alongside children in the foster care system by offering consistent support.
“That’s the thing these kiddos lack is just consistent adults in their lives that say, 'I see you. You matter. You can make a difference. You have a purpose in this life,” said McClain.
Human services spokesperson Jana Slagle said the foster care system in Bakersfield is doing well. She told 23ABC the foster youth graduation rate in Kern County is 68.2-percent, almost 10-percent above California’s percentage rate. But she also said that number can always be higher and sometimes the kids just need extra encouragement.
“Although foster parents are wonderful and love them and care for them, sometimes they need somebody outside of that realm to just encourage them, and I think that is a huge need," explained Slagle. "That’s probably the biggest need that I see.”
That’s where Bakersfield Angels come in.
“Bakersfield Angels is coming to come alongside those that are already in the trenches," said McClain. "You know they're doing the hard work and we’re just saying, hey, we’re here to fill in the gaps. What needs do you see and we just want to meet them.”
Volunteers are paired with a foster kid to help them use DHS’s resources like classes on building resumes, applying to jobs or opening a bank account.
“That’s what we see as helping kids be more successful in life, is having people to walk them through the difficulties and the challenges and the successes,” said Slagle.
Bakersfield Angels launch next month but McClain said now is the time for volunteers to sign up. Volunteers will be pushing foster kids in the right direction.
“Just like a parent who has to prod their kid to sign up for the SAT, you’re just being that person saying hey, here are the resources. Let’s get you there,” added McClain.
McClain said you don’t need any experience to become a mentor. The nonprofit will give you plenty of training so you’re ready to help the foster kid you’re paired with.