Celebrating Stark County foster youth graduates

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For four Stark County students, this summer not only marks the celebration of their high school graduation, but also marks the end of their time in Stark County Job & Family Services (SCJFS) foster care.

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The Rising Up… Moving On event hosted last month by Project KARE recognized the perseverance and accomplishments of these four foster youth:

  • Michael Tapia graduated from Perry High School. Tapia had a successful summer job experience last year while working at Grinders Above & Beyond, and is excited to start a new job this summer, taking on different responsibilities and acquiring new skills.

What is Rising Up… Moving On?

Each year, children in the custody of SCJFS Children Services Division who are receiving their high school diploma, GED certificate or college degree are celebrated at the Rising Up… Moving On event.

These students continue to receive services and support as young adults through SCJFS and the Bridges program until they turn 21, which includes mentorship, financial assistance for higher education and other opportunities.

“Rising Up… Moving On is such a wonderful event because it not only gives these youth the opportunity to be in the spotlight and celebrates for everything they have accomplished, but it also lets them see that they have a huge support system behind them with people who care about their future,” said Tricia Mayle, deputy director of SCJFS Children Services Division.

“Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 children in foster care won’t graduate from high school or earn a GED, but here you have four graduates who worked hard and overcame challenges to achieve success. It’s a very inspiring and emotional day for everyone involved, and we couldn’t be prouder of them.”

The graduates invite family members, foster parents, friends and other significant people in their lives to attend the event alongside public officials, judges, magistrates, caseworkers, SCJFS staff and Project KARE board members.

About Project KARE

Project KARE was established to address the needs of children and families of the SCJFS Children Services Division. The non-profit organization believes no child deserves to be denied what other children experience because of the inability of their families to provide a safe and nurturing home. Requests for assistance are made through a referral from the child’s assigned social worker.

“Project KARE believes it is important to acknowledge these children as we do our very own children — on their birthdays, throughout the holiday season, when they return to school in the fall and when they graduate from high school and college,” said Michelle Neisel , Project KARE coordinator.

“We support and recognize the children and families of SCJFS and the foster parents dedicated to caring for Stark County’s most vulnerable children. The support we receive from our board members, SCJFS staff and the community to make these programs and events possible throughout the year is incredible and very much appreciated.”

Learn more about Project KARE at www.projectkare.com.

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This article originally appeared on The Repository: Stark Job & Family Services honors four graduating after foster care