AUSTIN - Lawmakers are gearing up for the 2017 legislative session knowing the Texas Foster Care system will be a big topic, but one former foster care kid is already working towards a solution.
Angel Carroll went into foster care at 15.
"I was told in multiple placements that I wasn't going to amount to anything, I wouldn't be successful, I would be lucky if I got my GED," said Carroll.
That's until she went to the Austin Children's Shelter, where she went through their independent living program for teens who are aging out of foster care. There she learned how to cook, clean and budget.
"After you age out of care, there are still a lot of things that you do need help with, there are things to this day that I still call some of the staff I'm close with and say 'Hey what I do I do when this situation happens?'" said Carroll.
Carroll is now a junior at Texas Tech, majoring in social work. She said staff at the Austin Children’s Shelter encouraged her to join organizations in college, helping her branch out.
"When you go to college after being in foster care it's obvious that you're different, other people might not know that something's different, but you know something's different, and knowing that I can call back to ACS and say hey this is what's going on whether it be good or bad, just when I come back to Austin I always make a stop here,” said Carroll.
Carroll already has a couple job opportunities on the table. While she has the support system of staff at the children’s shelter, she knows not everyone does.
So Carroll is teaming up with ACS to create a Foster Care alumni program as part of the Safe Alliance, giving former foster kids a family of support.
"A lot of things that we're not able to do that some kids are able to do when they go out to college on their own is call their parents - how do I make this, or can I use bleach, do I use hot or cold water?” said Carroll.
The program allows young adults, who have aged out of foster care, to go to the shelter for emergency needs, like a shower before a job interview, or a gift card to buy groceries.
"It may seem small, but it helps a tremendous amount," said Carroll.
She created focus groups to find out what people would want.
The program is open to all former foster care children, not just those who spent time at Austin Children’s Shelter. Carroll said she wants to foster care kids, who have aged out of the program to be successful. She wants to prevent them from becoming homeless, which she’s seen happen to fellow foster care kids.
Eventually, she wants to make changes on an even bigger scale, wanting to work in the legislature to fix the Texas foster care system.
"I've seen a lot of different things that I don't agree with and I feel like who better to make those changes than someone who has actually like seen it," said Carroll.
They’re changes she knows will truly make a difference.
Carroll said they still need help from the community. You can donate money here, or you can help by teaching a class, like cooking or cleaning. GO HERE to contact SAFE and get involved, or call 512-267-SAFE (7233)
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