Brightening Futures for Youth in Foster Care and their Children
Laura* became pregnant during her first year at Illinois State University (ISU). Originally from Chicago and as a youth in foster care, Laura lacked a support network in the Bloomington-Normal area. Rather than drop out of school, Laura decided to continue at ISU and was referred to the Healthy Families home visiting program supported by Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) funding. Since her case was opened in February of this year, Laura has been linked with a doula, attended WIC and doctor appointments, and connected to the Bloomington Crisis Nursery for postpartum support. Laura’s home visitor also helped her create a postpartum plan in concert with her professors at ISU to ensure she could continue to attend classes and complete assignments.
In early March – weeks before the start of spring break at ISU – Laura delivered a baby girl. After a few weeks, Laura was able to return to classes. However, with only four weeks left in the semester, it was very difficult for her to find a daycare provider who would enroll her child for such a short period of time. To ensure she could finish the school year, Laura worked with her home visitor and the Crisis Nursery to develop a plan of care for her daughter while she attended class. Laura’s home visitor, along with her doula and other home visitors in the program rallied around Laura and agreed to transport her and her baby to and from the Crisis Nursery for the remainder of the school year.
With the support of Healthy Families and the Crisis Nursery, Laura successfully completed her freshman year of college and began her sophomore year at ISU this past August. The services Laura has received through Healthy Families not only helped her to feel confident and prepared for the birth of her child, but also for their future. Laura is now in the process of researching and applying for financial assistance since she will be transitioning out of the child welfare system to independence next year. She’s determined to finish college and plans to become an elementary school teacher after graduation.
The Healthy Families program is part of the Illinois Pregnant and Parenting Youth in Care Home Visiting project, which provides home visiting to abused and neglected youth in the foster care system who are pregnant or parents. The project brings together the child welfare and early childhood systems to improve outcomes for youth in foster care and their children. Children’s Home + Aid manages the project across nine regions in Illinois and provides home visiting services for the pilot in Bloomington and Sycamore, IL.
*Names of individuals have been changed to protect their identities