Zoie’s Place is focusing on Foster Care Awareness Month and graduation, a time when family gathers to celebrate a milestone, but for many young adults in foster care, they look around to find no one celebrating with them.
For the founder of Zoie’s Place, Brandy Coty, that reality was heartbreaking.
“I remember my own high school graduation, my friends and family celebrated with me at a BBQ at Belton Lake,” Coty said. “I have so many fun memories from that day. I received gifts and money that helped prepare me to move out of my parents’ home and go off to college. I can’t imagine reaching that moment in life and having no one to celebrate with me.”
That is why Coty and the staff at Zoie’s Place decided to emulate her own graduation experience with a graduation party at Little Elm Beach for foster youth and alumni. Zoie’s Place celebrated college graduates from UNT and high school graduates from Denton and Guyer High School.
“Many of these youth attend multiple high schools throughout their time in foster care. Some of the girls we’ve worked with have attended as many as 10 high schools,” Coty said. “The constant placement changes make it difficult for them to jump in when they change schools, making the mountain they climb to graduation even steeper.”
According to the National Foster Youth Institute, only 50 percent of children in foster care graduate from high school and only 3 percent will graduate with a bachelor’s degree. As a former Child Protective Services Caseworker, Coty has experienced firsthand the challenges these youth face as they try to make it to graduation.
“I was told I wouldn’t graduate high school because I was constantly in and out of placements. I attended seven high schools, completing school was a struggle but I’m proud to say I beat the odds,” said Hannah Joiner, Denton High School graduate.
To learn more about Zoie’s Place, visit www.zoiesplace.org.