Brittanie, 33, was in elementary school, under the age of 9, she surmises, when she entered foster care and stayed in the system until she was 18 years old. Today, she has seven children between the ages of 5 and 14 and and maintains a career while continuing her education. Looking back at how far she’s come, Brittanie remembers how fearful she felt when she had her first child.
“Delivering a child and preparing myself for being a parent was very difficult,” she says, noting that young women who grow up in the foster care system tend to know less about their medical history. Brittanie took parenting classes to prepare.
“I wanted to know about being a parent,” she says. “I wanted to understand how I could be better [to] give my child more than what I had.”
On her journey as a foster youth and now as a parent, Brittanie has found helpful programs like her parenting classes but has also seen areas where she could have used an extra boost. Entering college was one area where she wishes she had more assistance. Brittanie was recognized as a National High School Scholar and received scholarships, but she didn’t use them because she lacked more information on how to accept them. She also recalls how difficult it was to find child care when she was looking for a job. Supportive programs in these moments could have made life easier for Brittanie.
“There are programs out there, but they don’t always fit the categories for everyone’s needs,” she says.
Ultimately, though, Brittanie was able to go to college and has continued her education while balancing a career and motherhood.
“The only thing we can do to change and help women is to be a change. And that’s what I tell my daughters,” says Brittanie. “We have to be the change that we want to see.”
Brittanie says she is “grateful and blessed to see the change” on the horizon. “Going through obstacles and hurdles has made me a strong person. However, being able to see someone else walk through a door — and I have to jump, skip, and all of that and run — it’s fulfilling,” says Brittanie. “Some of us have to jump for others to walk.”
The RightWay Foundation: Since 2011, The RightWay Foundation has been working with foster youth as they transition into adulthood. The organization offers resources for job training and placement, therapy, financial literacy, and parenting programs for Los Angeles County people between the ages of 18 and 26.
Alliance for Children’s Rights: Alliance for Children’s Rights works with youth in the foster care system and transitioning out of it with legal support and housing. They also offer a program for expectant or parenting youth who are still in the foster care system.