For teens in foster care, who have endured trauma, abuse and neglect, graduating from high school is an especially rewarding—and impressive—achievement.
Today seven graduating high school seniors – all in Delaware’s foster program – received a special visit from First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, who offered heartfelt congratulations on their academic journeys. Carney visited the seven seniors from Camden to Wilmington who have also taken part in the foster care academic support program offered by Delaware’s Kind to Kids Foundation.
Seventeen-year-old Patricia D’Amoto is one of the graduates who welcomed First Lady Carney to her home in New Castle today. D’Amoto graduated from William Penn High School with the help of Kind to Kids Foundation’s UGrad education program.
D’Amato, who intends to take classes at Del Tech, says she remembers well the exact day she left the comfort of living with her father and landed in foster care.
“I’ve been in foster care since May 17, 2019. Foster care was hard at first. But with Mr. Patrick and Miss Wendy [with Kind to Kids] it was exciting to know that I had people who were going to actually help me. And I was happy. I was able to accomplish the things that my mom wanted me to,” said D’Amato.
She says being in foster care “isn’t so hard” as long as you have hope and faith. “Every teenager in high school has a complication with their life. But with me, my senior year, I had a lot going on. And I overcame everything and got through it,” said D’Amato.
Carney, along with a few staff from Kind to Kids Foundation, including its founder Caroline Jones, delivered to each child a personalized sheet cake and paper products along with lots of bags of presents — a “graduation party in a box,” as Jones called it.
Kind to Kids had many reasons to celebrate their seniors today – all of them earned their diplomas.
“We’re celebrating all seven of our graduates. Kind to Kids has achieved a 100% graduation rate for the kids in our UGrad program, which is a dramatic increase from the 54% national graduation rate for foster youth,” said Jones.
The UGrad advocates will also help the graduates to obtain a college education and employment.
Each student received a $50 gift card, a handsome watch, a pizza party, balloons, a yard sign, an inspiring book and other graduation items – “joyful things to help them celebrate this momentous occasion,” said Jones.
First Lady Carney said the high school milestone is an important one not only for students and their families but for our community.
“These young people are an inspiration to all of us and I think especially important to other children in foster care, who will follow them. They get to see that graduating from high school is really within their reach. As Patricia said, that when the hard stuff happens, you can keep going and you can do it, that there are people who believe in them. These kids are building a better future for all of us and it’s a real privilege to celebrate with them,” said Carney.
The following high school grads in the Kind to Kids UGrad program were recognized today:
Patricia D-Amato – William Penn High School
Elijah Edmonds – Mount Pleasant High School
Isaiah Edmonds – Mount Pleasant High School
Devin Jones – Dover High School
Heaven McWilliams – Freier Charter School
Diamond Stanley – Milford High School
Odunayo Obunbo – Delcastle Tech High School