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Foster Youth: Magnificent Miss M

Foster Youth

By: Courtney Edge-Mattos

On Friday, she will get the keys to her first apartment.

She will have all of the same butterflies as every young adult who has taken this step.  She will walk up the freshly shoveled path to the front stoop.  She will turn the key in the lock for the first time, swing open the door, and step into independence.

She is nineteen.  Most of her peers are still at home or in dorms for most of the year.  For Magnificent Miss M, she hasn’t been home since grade school.  She’s been in group homes and foster homes, but nowhere she could count on, nowhere to call her own.

She tried dorm life, but it didn’t feel comfortable.  The other college kids had different experiences.  When they were talking about going home on holidays or where they would vacation for spring break, she wondered whose couch she could crash on when college closed down.  When peers complained about their parents helicoptering over them about grades and course selection, internships and applications, she hung back from the conversations.  She had nothing to contribute.  No parents were asking her those questions, no parents were pestering her. 

There was still Miss B, her social worker who still texted and checked in.  When Magnificent Miss M moved into the dorms, it was Miss B who helped lug her things upstairs, arrange them in place.  It was Miss B who helped her walk the campus and figure out how to find her classes.  Miss B was the one who made sure she got her books and had school supplies.  It was Miss B who answered her calls when she felt lost, overwhelmed, misplaced.

The dorms just didn’t work for Magnificent Miss M.  For so many current and former foster youth, it is hard to live amongst peers who have such different life circumstances.  Miss B understood that.  Miss B didn’t blame or shame her.  She didn't tell Magnificent Miss M to try harder.  She heard her and she accepted it.  She told her to pause, to regroup, to come up with a new path to her degree.  She could pause, she could change paths, but she couldn't give up.  Magnificent Miss M, a young woman trying to hold her head high and maintain her pride, knew she needed to listen.  Miss B wouldn't lie to her, Miss B wouldn’t lead her astray.

Miss B helped her apply for the apartment.  She helped talk to the Powers That Be and get accepted for an independent apartment, helped contact the school and re-enroll correctly, helped find words to explain her first semester grades and what had happened. 

On Friday, Magnificent Miss M won’t have parents to move her in to her new place.  She won’t have a mom who brings her a first tool kit with basic supplies and shows her how to hang picture frames or assemble night stands.  She won’t have a dad who helps her scrub the bathroom, because she should start her life in her new apartment with a freshly cleaned tub. 

Magnificent Miss M will have Miss B, who will load up her truck with her belongings, will lug them upstairs, will help place picture frames, toiletries, and dustpans, will show her how to use the little tool kit and the first aid kit, and will hug her tightly before she closes the door, leaving Magnificent Miss M for her first night in her new apartment.

Magnificent Miss M may not have a traditional path or a traditional cheerleading team around her, but we will make sure that she knows how very much she matters.  Miss B and the rest of our crew will continue to check in, to advise, to support as Magnificent Miss M listens to the first creaks and clunks of her new apartment, as she finds successes, as she pushes through obstacles.  Miss B will make sure Magnificent Miss M knows her path is unique, but it is her own and it can lead her anywhere she chooses.  Magnificent Miss M is limitless and we won’t let her forget it.

If you would like to contribute to Magnificent Miss M’s housewarming wishlist, please click here.

If you would like to be a foster parent so that young people like Magnificent Miss M have a caring adult to fuss over them, please click here to begin your foster care journey.

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Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.