Fostering Success program helps young professionals who grew up in foster care

Summer program held at Barry Univeristy's School of Social Work

By Neki Mohan - Anchor/Reporter

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. - Children who are raised in the foster care system sometimes lack the exposure and foundation needed to succeed in life, but a summer program at Barry University is working to help that.

Fostering Success is a two-week program at the Barry University School of Social Work.

"I was placed in the foster care system at 13," Renee DuPont, who is studying to be a nurse practitioner, said. "I was in seven different foster care homes or group homes. It wasn't bad, it wasn't good."

DuPont has been determined not to let her time in foster care affect her dream of become a nurse practitioner.

She is one of 12  young professionals from Tallahassee who were once in the foster care system and who are now spending two weeks at Barry University's School of Social Work for the summer program.

"We have been working on self-care, conflict resolution, resume and cover letter writing -- anything that will help them," Tatum Drazen, director of Fostering Success, said.

"Right now, Mr. Naranjo is teaching us what ties to use, and I always have a problem with that," Tyler Phillips, who grew up in foster care, said. 

The young professionals are not only doing work inside the classroom, but outside as well, learning about how to dress, care for themselves and even do yoga.

Along with yoga have come lessons in meditation and mindfulness.

The students have been given professional grooming, and they have been able to bond together and have a little fun.

"This program gives you an open mind on how you deal with other people," Steven Kennedy, who is participating in the program, said.

The students have become each other's support system, using the camp to defy stereotypes about children in foster care.

"Feeling like a charity case, feeling neglected, like people are going to judge you based on your circumstances -- based on something you have no control over," DuPont said.

"This will help raise awareness that we are professional," Phillips, who wants to be a lawyer, said. "We are going to grow up to be professionals, and not everyone is going to fall through the cracks."

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