During May National Foster Care Month, Fostering Youth Independence Highlights Its Work to Support Vulnerable Youth in Santa Clarita

Local foster youth share their thoughts about being in the foster system

May 11 is next Ally training to prepare volunteer adults to make a real difference in these youths’ lives

SANTA CLARITA (April 24, 2023) – Most residents in Santa Clarita would be surprised to know that hundreds of youth are living among us who are aging out the L.A. County foster system without being adopted or reunited with their birth families. With May being National Foster Care Month, Fostering Youth Independence (FYI), the largest Santa Clarita-based nonprofit supporting local foster youth, is shining a light on the plight of these vulnerable youth, as well as the work it’s doing to help these youth overcome a shaky foundation and unlock the doors to a successful future.

FYI currently serves 76 transition-age (16-25 years) foster youth in the Santa Clarita Valley, and has supported 147 local youth since its inception in 2017. It supports local foster youth in a variety of ways. It assigns each youth a caring adult volunteer Ally and a program coordinator to help them set and achieve goals in areas such as education, employment, housing, finances, health, transportation, assistance with college applications, enrollment and class registration, and referrals to resources for food, housing, health, mental health and employment. It also provides emergency financial assistance when an unexpected expense such as a car repair threatens to derail a youth’s educational plans. FYI offers The Study Place for learning support and tutoring, a Ready, Set, Drive! program to assist youth in obtaining their drivers license, hosts events throughout the year where the youth can connect with other youth and Allies to create a network of support, and partners with College of the Canyons for referrals and counseling. It also provides school supplies and holiday gifts.

The non-profit points to some important successes last year. There were 19 graduations, and safe, stable and affordable housing for foster college students facing homelessness were secured – a total of 56 since FYI’s founding in 2017. It supported 68 youth with emergency assistance funds and transportation, hosted its annual Back-to-School Bash and Career Fair, provided 75 academic support sessions at The Study Place, launched a new driver training program and introduced its first financial planning workshop, among other accomplishments.

In advance of National Foster Care Month, FYI asked its youth for their thoughts about being in the foster system, and a sampling of their comments are:

  • It’s hard to be separated from the rest of your siblings, and not being able to see them everyday is difficult.”
  • There’s a feeling of being alone in a world of people because no one understands what it’s like to be in your shoes.”
  • We are just as equal as other youths who weren’t in the foster system. It’s not our fault that we were put in the foster care system, so we shouldn’t be looked at as any less or different.”
  • Some people tend to think that foster kids are bad, when in actuality it was just your family that was having some issues.”
  • Being in the foster system feels as if you have to question yourself, asking am I just a bother, because in my head I thought the two people who are supposed to care for me just gave me up so easily.”
  • One of the unspoken challenges of being a foster child is whether to reveal your status to your friends; it can be an awkward conversation to have.”
  • Imagine spending your life being told you will be nobody and amount to no one by people who are supposed to be caring for you and keeping you safe – ‘foster parents’.”

“Their heartbreaking comments provide a window into the trauma and challenges these youth have faced growing up,” explained Carolyn Olsen, FYI’s executive director and co-founder. “And without a supportive, caring family influence that most of us have been blessed to have, these youth face becoming part of some harsh statistics. For instance, only 55% will have a high school diploma, 36% will experience homelessness within the first 18 months, and 25% will be incarcerated within two years. They are also more likely to experience hardships such as joblessness, early parenthood and substance abuse.”

Santa Claritans have the opportunity to make a real difference in these youth’s lives by becoming a volunteer Ally and encouraging their youth through the journey to obtaining a college degree or trade certificate, and providing the caring support the youth may not have had as they traveled through the foster system. FYI is seeking more volunteer Allies, both men and women, to support these youth in their journey to complete a post-high school education and become successful adults. The next Ally training will be held Thursday, May 11 at 6 pm in the Fellowship Center at Christ Lutheran Church in Valencia. The benefits of being an Ally are explained by local resident, Jason Downs.

“Being an FYI Ally doesn’t require a lot of time, just a little consistent care and support – a routine text, a call to check in, a ride to a job interview, a meetup for coffee.” he said. “The goal is to be a positive presence in a young person’s life. Men are especially good at showing up, being there when someone needs us and doing whatever needs done. We need more of these men to step up in order to make the kind of change we want to see in the world, one person at a time. This is precisely the unique opportunity that being an FYI Ally offers.”

“One of the things we consider vital is that we embed these youth in a community of care within Santa Clarita, and we hope that our community will continue to embrace these local foster youth and the work FYI is doing,” said Olsen. “There are so many ways to get involved and make a difference in the lives of these youth – for example by becoming an Ally, making a donation, becoming a corporate sponsor, contributing to our emergency financial assistance fund, renting a room in your home to a youth, donating gift cards for gas and groceries, offering tutoring or providing school supplies. We’re grateful for all the ways we receive support to help better these youths’ lives.”

Further information about Fostering Youth Independence and ways to become involved, support and donate can be found on or by calling (661) 360-1500.

About Fostering Youth Independence (FYI)

FYI is the largest Santa Clarita-based nonprofit supporting local foster youth who have aged out of the L.A. County foster care system without being adopted or reunified with their birth parents. FYI addresses the serious challenges faced by these youth, which include not finishing high school or pursuing higher education, homelessness and incarceration. FYI offers local foster youth, ages 16-25 years, numerous resources to help overcome past traumas, complete an education, gain employment and become successful, independent adults. This includes being paired with a caring adult “Ally” who provides guidance and encouragement as the youth work to to complete a college or trade degree. FYI is currently serving 76 foster youth, the majority of whom are attending College of the Canyons.


Instagram: @fyifosteryouth



Carolyn Olsen

Co-founder and Executive Director

(661) 360-1500 ext. 700

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