Gloria Esperanza Sosa, A Rural Teacher in Las Crucitas, Honduras, Shares What She Has Learned

An Interview by Soledad Quartucci

“My parents never made it to school. They grew up in the school of life and taught themselves how to read. Even though they didn’t make it to school, they made sure that we did.” Gloria Esperanza Sosa, rural teacher in Honduras.

Gloria Esperanza Soza 2

Gloria Esperanza Sosa leans against local politician, Walter Chavez, after receiving a national award for teaching excellence by the Honduran Congress. Photo, courtesy of Walter Chavez’ Facebook page.

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Every morning, Gloria Esperanza Sosa gets up at 6 o’clock and heads to work. Gloria is a teacher and the school director of Jose Cecilio del Valle, a rural school in Las Crucitas, a small village of 100 homes in El Paraiso, Honduras.

Gloria's School Entrance, "Jose Cecilio del Valle."
Gloria’s School Entrance, “Jose Cecilio del Valle.”
The school is located in a very small village in El Paraiso, Honduras.

Life in Las Crucitas:

Las Crucitas is a village of 100 homes in Danil, a municipality of El Paraiso in Honduras. Gloria’s father was one of the original founders of the village. He and other rural families joined forces to build Las Crucitas’ first school. In fact, it was this school that gave birth to this community as rural families moved to the area so they could work and educate their children in the remote area. Today, Gloria describes her neighbors as members of a community that is “muy bonita,” very beautiful. She praises the families as healthy, and Las Crucitas as a place filled with good, hard-working people. Gloria is more than a teacher. She is a leader in a small farming community. Her students are the children of farmers.

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Packed with a good crop, Edwer Lagos, a tomato farmer heads to town for a good sale. Photo, courtesy of Melissa Lopez .

 

The village is connected through dirt roads. Residents have access to potable water and electricity, innovations of the recent years. There is no plumbing or hot water. Melissa Lopez, daughter of Gloria Sosa, shared that their community is united, collaborative and extremely helpful. When she heard that I was interviewing her mother, Melissa contacted farmers across Las Crucitas asking for photos of every day life. “All I had to do was ask,” stated Melissa, “and using their little old cell phones, photos from across town, started pouring in. Famers were happy to help and to share picutres of their lives for Gloria’s story.

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Farmers at work in Las Crucitas-Photo courtesy of Melissa Lopez

 

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Very few farming families own livestock. Those who do, are considered wealthy. Photo courtesy of Melissa Lopez
Life in the farm in Las Crucitas. Photo courtesy, Melissa Lopez.
Life in the farm in Las Crucitas. Photo courtesy, Melissa Lopez.
Life on the farm.
Las Crucitas living.

Residents use latrines, and wood burning stoves to prepare their daily meals. Gloria considers herself blessed. She has one of the few gas stoves in the community.

Gloria and a precious commodity, her gas stove; a luxury in the village.
Gloria and a precious commodity, her gas stove; a luxury in the village.

To buy food residents travel by bus to Danli, the nearest city. The bus is considered a long distance traveling treat. Locally, people get around on bikes, and homemade motor-taxis. Some residents build attachable baskets onto their bikes, and add a third wheel for easier transportation of goods and people. No alcohol is sold in Las Crucitas. It is an extremely religious town, mostly Catholic and evangelical. Catholics attend the church, Sagrada Familia, Sacred Family, and evangelicals attend Pentecostal International Mission. Melissa shared that since everyone in town knows each other, crime is extremely low and almost unheard of. People are so helpful that if I were to arrive in town and was lost, I could ask anyone how to get to Gloria or her daughter, Melissa’s house, and after interrogating me to make sure I’m a good person, they would guide me to their homes, and wait outside just in case I need anything else, like having to find another neighbor or needing to find my way back to a different town.

There are 4 teachers in Las Crucitas, including Gloria. Women work hard. They are homemakers, and also work in the fields and help milk the cows. After milking the cows, women take the milk to milk factories and this helps them to make a little extra money for their families. Women also attend church regularly and men like to play soccer.

Gloria catches a ride in a moto-taxi.
Gloria catches a ride in a moto-taxi.
Gloria stops to pose for a photo for this, her story.
Gloria stops to pose for a photo to highlight her story.

A Community Leader, Teacher and School Director

Gloria is 65  years old. She has been teaching for 36 years, and presently, she teaches the children of her first cohort of students.

I found Gloria when I stumbled upon a Honduran article on teaching excellence. In a photo celebrating her dedication to her community and to education, petite Gloria leaned against local political candidate, Walter Chavez, as she hanged on to an award recognizing her as an outstanding educator.

After contacting Mr. Chavez, I was able to connect with Gloria and interview her. Amidst roosters’ yells, laughter, my Spanglish, and Gloria’s happy spirit, Gloria told me she had been waiting for my call. The teacher shared her views on education, the meaning of her award, and they way she hopes to be remembered by her students.

Headed to school. A sunny day. Gloria grabs her vibrant umbrella and heads to work.
Headed to school. A sunny day. Gloria grabs her vibrant umbrella and heads to work.

 

A courteous neighbor drops Gloria off at the gates of her school.
A courteous neighbor drops Gloria off at the gates of her school.

 

Photo courtesy, Eva Sosa
Photo courtesy, Eva Sosa–Posing, Gloria far left, in blue, all  her students and some parents. Eva, Gloria’s sister, took this and the following photos of Gloria, her students and the family. Gracias, Eva!

 Gloria’s Story

Mi name is Gloria Esperanza Sosa. I have been working as a teacher since the age of 22. I was “bien jovencita,” very young when I got started. I knew that I was meant to teach since a very young age. I knew this because I love children and I love to teach.

I work in a rural area and through my lifetime as a teacher I have witnessed much poverty and many difficulties affecting my students’ families. I have always done what I could to support the children. Whatever they have needed, I have tried to provide it. Sometimes it’s been school supplies; other times, it’s been food, and help.

I have raised so many youth! I am so grateful for my teaching award, and for the computer I received from the national congress.

Last year, I was invited to apply for this award. I sent my curriculum, and to my surprise, a commission representing the municipality of Danil visited me to tell me I was going to be honored. Later, I received a call from Congress inviting me to attend the celebration.

The Life of a Rural Teacher

I trained to be a teacher in the Escuela Normal Espania in Danli, which continues to train teachers today. When I went to school, the teaching credential lasted 3 years.

I have faced many challenges as a teacher. But one learns to adapt. Rural villages are not places of luxury. We don’t have much, but we do a lot with a little, and we know what matters. At the beginning of my career I didn’t have electricity, or potable water. Things are better now, but there is still work ahead.

I had great parents who taught me to give of myself selflessly, to love my neighbor, to love children and to cherish the elderly. These teachings propelled me forward then, and continue to move me to action today.

My job is to raise the next generation and to help shape their character. Academics are very important, but equally important is to teach children values.

We Are Resourceful People

Some of the greatest challenges we face is that we cannot rely on economic support from our government to provide the type of quality education we would like to offer .

I’m working on getting help to get a new roof for our school. The building is 36 years old and our roof is in immediate need of repair. When it rains, we have leaks. One of our classrooms, in particular, gets a lot of water. Our fence needs to be patched up, too. It has deteriorated over time. We need to repair it because it helps us to keep our students safe and our property protected. Our tables and school benches are very old, too.

We have a united community and parents always step in to try to help. We hope to find furniture and service providers that can help our school.

Blue Skies and Open Spaces

Our playground is an open ground. Children don’t need much. Just fresh air, and a big space. Our students use their imaginations to entertain themselves. They like chasing each other during break, jumping rope and playing hopscotch.

Gloria's students jump rope during break time.
Gloria’s students jump rope during break time.

Jose Cecilio Del Valle, a resilient school in Las Crucitas

We have 96 students in our school and we teach all 6 grades from 1st to 6th grade. I am the school director and also its oldest teacher. I teach 3rd and 4th grade. Our students range in ages from six to twelve years old. Our day begins at 7 am. We stop for lunch at twelve and some days continue on until 3pm. We start our day with daily prayer, spiritual and moral teachings and then move on to natural sciences, Spanish, math and other courses.

A Classroom in Gloria's school.
A Classroom in Gloria’s school.

 

A Day in the Life of Gloria

I wake up at 6 am. I head to school, go home for lunch, and return to school at 1pm. Due to scarcity of food, the families have asked that the children be allowed to walk home, eat with their families and return to school. I have allowed it.

Our school does not have technology, computers or internet signal. But we do have electricity and water.

The children are good children. They need more education after completing their schooling here, but while here, they apply themselves and they like to learn. We expose them to everything we can. Some love history, math, drawing and the arts. We don’t have a lot of discipline problems in our school. We find the time spent inculcating values, morality and love of your neighbor helps keep discipline problems at bay.

Gloria and Students' Parents.
Gloria and Her Students’ Parents.

My job as a School Director

I write reports on our performance. I pray for the wellbeing of my school and oversee it’s welfare. Here, we have a good time. Work is enjoyable.

Gloria Teaching Math.
Gloria Teaching Math.

The Competitive Field of Teaching

The government hires our teachers. You take an exam, and then we fight for our jobs. To earn a job as a teacher entails education and stiff competition. We barely have any openings. Even when teachers want to work and are willing to go up the mountains, to remote villages, anywhere to work, there is still no work.

We have many unemployed teachers. They become homemakers while they search and patiently wait for an opportunity to serve.

The job doesn’t pay well. But it makes us so happy. When people find jobs in Honduras they are happy for many reasons. One, is that they are able to be of service, and two, they are one of the few who can say, “I am working. I have a job!”

We like to work hard and to have something to offer, even when we don’t make enough to survive and barely get by.

Gloria and a student's parent outside the school.
Gloria and a student’s parent outside the school.

Our Teaching Pedagogy

We believe that students learn by doing, by solving problems, by research and group learning. My pedagogical style is to teach a lesson, followed by conversation with the students, and then we move to practice. There is value in learning by doing. I encourage them to investigate solutions. When they get stuck they work in groups to find answers, and I guide them, too. My goal is to inspire them to learn and pursue answers. I provide them with opportunities to practice what they learn, problem-solve and learn to search. I hope they never stop asking questions.

Life in Las Crucitas

The children don’t have much, but they are good children. They take pride in grooming themselves to come to school with their little uniforms and their one pair of dress shoes.

The families live very close to one another. Only 3 or 4 children live about 2 kilometers away from school.

The community is tranquil. We don’t have delinquency problems. Families work hard and receive sustenance depending on the seasons, the weather and the crops.

Parents Have Big Dreams for Their Children:

The parents hope that their children will graduate and find work; that their lives will be easier and more prosperous than theirs. They want them to have a better economic, social and cultural life.

There’s 3 of Us

We each teach approximately 30 students.

After They Graduate

After completing 6th grade those who can afford it transfer to a city school. They go to a school, Instituto de Union Oriente in Danli, Honduras. Not everyone can afford to go. The majority stays home, here locally. The boys will follow in their fathers’ footsteps and work in the fields. The girls will become homemakers.

The city school is a public school, so families don’t have to pay monthly fees. The problem is the charge for transportation. The school is 6 kilometers from us. Few can afford to pay.

The Big Challenge of Unemployment in Honduras

It is very disheartening to teach our children, to witness them grow up with dreams, to hand them their diploma only to watch them have nowhere to go. It breaks my heart when they ask,

“Prof, please find me a job?” I don’t have the means to help them with that. They graduate almost for nothing. There’s no work here.

Honduras is Facing a Crisis of Unemployment, Especially in Our Rural Areas.

There is so much poverty and scarce opportunity. Ours is an agricultural village. We used to raise cattle but not anymore. Those who work in the fields work hard for very little. The children who attend our school can only wish for the basics. Their fathers grow crops and their mothers are home makers. We raise corn and beans. The wealthiest families, only about 3 or 4, have a few livestock.

Gender Roles in little rural towns in Honduras:

People in our villages are humble, shy and respectful. But this doesn’t mean we don’t dream. Our families have goals, aspirations for their lives and the lives of their children. Before, no one could study beyond sixth grade. Now, we have most students completing primary school. Some are able to go to college and become professionals. Others, are still fighting to improve their lives.

Life in the village is different than in the city. The main difference is opportunity. All of us Hondurans share the same love of culture for our country. But depending on where one lives, the rhythm of life changes.

Gloria’s Parents

I am a daughter of farm workers. I grew up in a rural village close to Danli. When I was 7 my parents bought a little house here and sent me to school. I loved school, and went on to study to become a teacher. The students loved me so I decided to root myself in the community. I got married here and stayed. My father has passed away, but my mother is 93 years old. They were hard-working, dedicated people. They worked in agriculture and stockbreeding. We had great parents. I’m very grateful for them. Now my mother is very old, like a little girl, very dependent on us and we take care of her. I have three children, two of them are teachers.

Lessons I learned from My Parents

My parents never made it to school. They grew up in the school of life and taught themselves how to read. They didn’t make it to school but made sure that we did.

It was important to them to raise us to have a spirit of solidarity. My parents expected me to help others, to be of service. We grew up with lots of love and above all, we were taught to love God.

From them, I learned the value of perseverance and hard work. They taught us the importance to stay humble and to respect those who are different from us.

Honduran Culture

I love my Honduras

Honduras is a beautiful country. It has many beautiful natural resources that sadly, have been exploited. In my opinion this is the most beautiful place on earth. We have to protect it. We used to have precious animals and flowers that man has exhausted. In chopping down so many of our trees, whole floral and animal families have grown extinct. Their homes are gone.

It is a stunning place. We have two oceans on each of our coasts and a beautiful lake, lago de Yojoa.

Lago Yojoa, Honduras. Photo, Mundo Catracho BlogSpot.

One of our favorite past times is to cook and eat with family and friends. We eat paletas, corn cakes with beans, rice and seasonal vegetables. When we can afford it, we add a little beef, chicken or pork.

Our local families cannot afford to spend on entertainment. After a hard week of work, we like to stay home, go to church, rest. We take walks, clean our homes and do our chores. Sometimes, we watch tv, Christian television, soap operas, sports or cultural programs.

On Modernity

Modernity is changing us. Machismo lingers on but it’s not our defining cultural trait. Parents continue to have the biggest impact in orienting the character of their children.

Unfortunately, even with the best teachings, one cannot invent jobs. This is why we have such big immigration waves.

Those who leave Honduras don’t leave because they want to. They have to. They want to protect their families. They want to work. Some go to Spain, some to other Latin American countries, some to the U.S. Many fail along the way, and many families are fractured and suffer long separations and hardship while relatives leave in search of work.

The rise in single mothers and single fathers have to do with immigration flows, lack of work, and changes in the family.

The single parent here is extra resourceful. Each day they have to recreate strategies to survive. How to bring the “pan de cada dia,” how to find the daily bread. Life pushes them to become entrepreneurial. They make and sell things. They do gigs for others. They clean homes, sell items, make items and exchange favors. They sell tamales. They do what they can.

On Health Care

When our children get sick, we have a health center 20 kilometers from here, but it doesn’t do us much good. Mothers do what they can to come up with their own medicines. We do have one doctor working at the center but we don’t have medicine. Hospitals do not have medicine for us.

The doctor writes a prescription, the mother puts it in her bag and figures her own way to heal her child.

Do you want to know how we heal when we get sick? Well, through God’s providence (laughter), of course.

Diosito is very busy in Honduras. Our God is very busy in Honduras. He gets called around the clock. The good news is that He is powerful and can do all things.

On Retirement

We can retire at 50, but why stop? At sixty-five I still work and there’s so much work to do. I have started the process of retirement, but I’m not in a hurry to get there.

Gloria and her family. Relaxing at home.
Gloria and her family. Relaxing at home.

My ex-students:

Some of my ex-students are working as teachers, engineers and lawyers. I feel such deep joy that I had some impact in their upbringing.

How Do you Want to be Remembered?

Over the years some of my students have returned for a visit and have told me, “Prof, I remember when you used to tell us to be kind and to be generous.” These visits make me smile. What I hope they remember is my little voice encouraging them along: Charge forward! Choose the right path, and choose wisely. Love your creator. Cherish your families and fight for their welfare.

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What are the Challenges facing Foster Youth after Emancipation in California? Housing, Mental Health and Education Are Critical Needs

“Given what we experience in foster care, it’s hard to trust people. What we need is the same someone to push us in the right direction year after year until we finish school and get a job.” — Youth in Foster Care

Each year, tens of thousands of children in communities across California are removed from their homes and placed in the foster-care system with the goal of finding a safe and permanent home for each child, either through reunification with the child’s family (after the family has met certain conditions), through adoption, or through placement with a permanent legal guardian. While these children are in the foster-care system, the state assumes legal responsibility for their health and safety.

According to The Transitional Housing Placement Plus, THP-Plus, a program created by the California State Legislature in 2001 that provides affordable Housing and Supportive Services to Youth Transitioning from California’s Foster Care and Juvenile Probation System, foster youth comprise an alarming rate of the homeless population in California.

In 2014-15 more than 1 in 4 youth (28%) entered THP-Plus directly from homelessness.

THP-Plus, a Statewide Implementation Project published by The John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes recently released the FOSTER CARE Annual Report 2014-2015. Following is a summary of its major findings for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014-15.

 

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 “I bounced around a lot of schools and never got comfortable being there. Since I knew that I’d be at a school for just a little bit, I felt like I didn’t need to care about my studies.” — Student in foster care

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EDUCATION-Foster Youth-Academically At Risk

California is committed to providing high-quality public education for all students. Yet, until recently, reform efforts rarely acknowledged a group of students who persistently underperform: students in foster care.

California has had little statewide information about the education of school-aged children and youth who are in the foster-care system and for whom the state is legally responsible.

This is largely due to challenges related to the availability, collection, and sharing of information about these students across the education and child welfare systems.

As a result, the education needs of these students have often gone unrecognized and unmet—leaving many of them trailing their classmates in academic achievement.

Students in foster care are especially at risk for school failure, as evidenced by poor grades and high rates of absenteeism, grade retention, disciplinary referrals, and dropping out of high school.

California is now setting out to track the academic progress of students in foster care—the first state in the nation to do so.

Thus, the findings reported below are especially timely. California students in foster care have unique characteristics that justify their identification as a separate at-risk student subgroup and that this subgroup has a significant achievement gap compared to the other student groups.

  • Students in foster care were 3 times more likely to be African American
  • Are classified with a disability at twice the rate of the comparison groups
  • Are 5 times more likely to be classified with an emotional disturbance than other students.
  • Are older for their grade level
  • Had higher rates of enrollment in grades 9, 10, or 11 than the comparison groups, a likely outcome of grade retention and a risk factor for dropping out.
  • Are more likely than other students to change schools during the school year. Suffer much higher rates of school mobility than other students.
  • Are more likely than other students to be enrolled in nontraditional public schools. Enrollment in these schools suggests that students were unsuccessful at traditional schools and, thus, were transferred to other schools.
  • Are more likely than the general population of students to be enrolled in the lowest-performing schools.
  • High school students in foster care had the highest dropout rate and lowest graduation rate. Reducing dropout rates and boosting high school graduation rates are state education priorities. To be on track to graduate from a California public high school, students are required to pass both the English language arts and mathematics parts of the California the graduation rate for all grade-12 students statewide was 84 percent, but for students in foster care, it was just 58 percent—the lowest rate among the at-risk student groups.

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 “When I was in elementary and middle school, I was switched around a lot. I didn’t leave those schools with teachers or kids I knew. Then, for the first time, I was in high school for four years and made friends. Really, it was the teachers who helped me the most. They showed me that I can finish homework, get good grades, go to college, and have a future.” — Student in foster care

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“In foster care we live with the unknown—about where we will be living or going to school or what will next happen in our lives. We often get punished for behaving in ways that are reactive to the unknown. Instead of addressing the real issues, at school we are just treated as troublemakers.” — Student in foster care

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“I was in a living situation where school wasn’t a priority. There was no time or place to do homework except after my caregiver went to sleep. There was no one in my life who wanted me to make it through school except a few teachers who talked to me and helped me graduate and go to college.” — Student in foster care

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 “My life was chaotic all the time and so was my school experience. I changed schools a lot. I made and lost friends. I didn’t try in classes I knew I wouldn’t finish. I got in trouble to get attention. Then after a while in high school I turned it around because I wanted a better life, and there were a few teachers who cared enough to help me pass and get a diploma.” — Student in foster care

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“No one knew why I messed up in school. No one was there to help me be successful in school. No one told me to stay in school. No one cared when I stopped going.” — Student in foster care

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Housing: A Critical Post-Emancipation Need–What type of Housing is Available to Help Emancipated Foster Youth?

 

The housing program provides emancipated youth with two years affordable housing assistance. A year is extended for those in college. However, most youth exit THP Plus without strengthening their capacity to achieve long-term economic stability.

Given the number of parenting youth and youth with disabilities exiting the housing programs many will need ongoing housing assistance in the form of permanent, affordable housing.

The Challenge: Accessing permanent, affordable housing is often seen as an “extra” rather than a requirement.

Remote-sites:

Of 1,436 youth placed on July 1, 2015, the most common housing model was remote-site housing. In this model, participants live in individual rental units leased by the THP provider.

In FY 2014-15, remote site accounted for 80 percent of all housing sites. The second most common was the staffed housing model (19%), followed by the host family model (1%)

What does it cost to provide Emancipated Youth with Affordable Housing in California?

THP-Plus costs per youth 2013-14.

During fiscal year 2014-15, monthly rate was:

  • $2,457 for a single-site housing model
  • $2,300 for a scattered-site model
  • $1,892 for a host-family model.

EMANCIPATED FOSTER WOMEN –Young Foster Women with Children: The Struggle to Meet the Unique Needs of Parenting Youths.

Almost half of young women served by the housing program for foster emancipated youth are custodial parents. Many of them become parents while living in THP-Plus. The main public benefits received by the women include CalWORKs, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the nutrition program, Women, Infant and Children (WIC).

Specific issues:

  • Securing child care
  • Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the participant’s child
  • Additional cost associated with providing a parenting youth with an adequately sized apartment
  • Challenge of repeat pregnancy
  • Parenting youth’s partner’s related problems:
    • intimate partner violence
    • collection of child support.

Lack of Childcare-A Barrier to Employment and Education:

  • The vast majority of children are living with their mothers.
  • Roughly 1 in 3 young women in THP are a custodial parent.
  • Lack of child care is a barrier to employment and education.
  • Almost none are able to access child care due to the high level of demand among low-income families in the community.
  • Infant supplements are unevenly administered.
    • All custodial parents placed in THP are eligible for a $411 infant supplement. However, interviews with providers and counties revealed that the infant supplement is administered differently across the state.
    • Some providers keep the infant supplement, with the rationale that custodial parents require a lower staffing ratio and larger units. Other providers pass the full $411 through to the parenting youth.

EMANCIPATED FOSTER YOUTH AND COLLEGE ACCESS


How Does THP PLUS Participation affect Foster Youth College Enrollment?

According to the latest report, only 1 in 5 participants are enrolled in college.

  • While staying in housing, participants make gains in employment and earnings, but struggle with enrolling or remaining in post-secondary education.
  • At the entry of THP Plus, 72 percent had graduated from high school or had earned their General Equivalency Degree (GED).
  • A total of 21 percent of youth were enrolled in community college. However, at the exit, just 22 percent were still enrolled in post-secondary education.
  • In 2014, the California State Legislature changed the eligibility criteria for THP-Plus, allowing a youth who is enrolled in school to stay in the housing program for 36 months instead of 24 months (Senate Bill 1252).

Challenges in Pursuing and Completing an Education:

Lack of preparation for college-level course work and youths’ preference to work affects college completion. Among all students with disabilities, students in foster care had by far the highest rate of emotional disturbance, which is a disability associated with difficulty maintaining relationships, inappropriate behaviors, and depression. These students were affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and intellectual disabilities. The largest disability classification for students in foster care was specific learning disability (39 percent), an impairment associated with challenges related to thinking, reading, writing and/or calculating. Students in foster care were also about half as likely to be classified with a speech or language impairment or autism as the comparison groups.

EMANCIPATED FOSTER YOUTH AND SPECIAL NEEDS:

  • Many youth exiting THP-Plus have special needs.
  • Of youth who exited THP-Plus in 2014-15, 22 percent were identified by their THP-Plus provider as having a special need, defined by the program as a serious physical or mental disability such as a mental illness, intellectual disability, cognitive impairment, or chronic health issue.
  • As of July 1, 2014, 17 percent of THP-Plus participants reported that they did not have health insurance, despite their eligibility for Medi-Cal to age 26 under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Foster Youth and Mental Health Needs: How does Emancipation affect care?

Providers and counties are challenged to provide youth with mental health needs.

The inability to provide therapeutic services required to safely house youth with serious mental illness prevented many youth from being placed into housing programs.

When Affordable Housing and Mental Health Services End

At age 21, specialized mental health services for children end. In a survey of county representatives, this challenge was identified as the greatest area of concern.

What’s Being Done to Support Transition into Self Sufficiency:

Students exiting the foster care system are in critical need of academic coaching, financial aid counseling and pathways to career and technical education programs. A greater effort is needed to prevent first and repeat pregnancies for young emancipated foster mothers. Providers and counties must deepen knowledge and capacity to help youth secure permanent, affordable housing post-program. The findings in this report serve as new evidence for policymakers to use in continuing efforts to improve the academic success of students in foster care. Building the knowledge and organizational capacity to help youth transitioning from both programs in accessing affordable housing will ensure that parenting youth and youth with disabilities have the long-term housing support that they often require.

Love and Support from caring volunteers are greatly needed. If you have a little time to spare and a big heart, consider giving an hour of your time weekly to organizations like School on Wheels, where volunteers meet with foster youths to help them with their homework. There are also organizations like, CASA, For many abused children, CASA volunteers are the one constant adult presence in their lives.

A Word From Social Workers:

“Remarkably, some of these same students ‘make it’ anyway. They do well in school, graduate and head off to college. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from someone who was in the foster-care system and, despite all the challenges, went on to earn a college degree and get a good job. Just imagine how much more often this would happen if all of our systems—whether in education or child welfare—worked together to understand and address the unique needs of these students.” — School Social Worker

Part-Time Workers and the Unemployed Are Alike Financially, According to Gallup Healthway Index.

According to the U.S. federal government, someone working as little as a few hours a week is considered employed, yet their financial well-being is similar to a person who does not have a job.

Part-time workers experience as much food and healthcare insecurity as the unemployed, according to research by the Gallup Healthways Well-Being index. Data collected daily from January through September 2015 by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, defined financial well-being based on these premises:

  • Ability to afford food and healthcare
  • Having enough money to do everything they want to do
  • Frequency of worry about money in the previous week
  • Perceptions of their standard of living compared with those they spend time with.

Food and Healthcare Insecurity High among Part-Time Workers

Those who work part-time but are looking for full-time work are nearly as likely as the unemployed — about three in 10 in each group — to report having lacked enough money for food or healthcare/medicine at least once in the prior 12 months. In contrast, only about 12% of their full-time employed counterparts share similar challenges, reports Dan Witters. 

Working Part time and Gender

How Food Security and Insecurity is Measured.  

According to the USDA, the food security status of each household is divided into four ranges,as follows:

  1. High food securityHouseholds with no problems, or anxiety about, consistently accessing adequate food.
  2. Marginal food security—Households that have experienced problems at times, or anxiety about, accessing adequate food, but the quality, variety, and quantity of their food intake were not substantially reduced.
  3. Low food security—Households that experienced reduction in the quality, variety, and desirability of their diets, but the quantity of food intake and normal eating patterns were not substantially disrupted.
  4. Very low food security—At times during the year, eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake reduced because the household lacked money and other resources for food.

How the Growth of the Gig Economy affects Workers 

The United States economy is transitioning into an Uber economy, with tens of millions of Americans involved in some form of freelancing, contracting, temping or outsourcing, writes Noam Scheiber of the New York Times.

These shifts are affecting how middle-class America was built, states Scheiber, along with other changes, like declining unionization and advancing globalization. As incomes stagnate, Americans remain anxious about their economic well-being, years after the Great Recession.

There are More Part Time Workers Looking For Full-Time Jobs 

There is a sharp rise in the number of jobs available; however, these numbers are not matched by the number of part time workers who want them. In fact, employment reports show a rise in the number of part-time workers who prefer full-time jobs. The total jumped by 275,000 to 7.5 million, the Labor Department states Paul Davidson for USA Today.

Healthcare Insecurity

The Affordable Care Act requires firms with at least 50 employees to provide them with health insurance to those working at least 30 hours, which has led some businesses to hire more part-time workers.

Millenials Face Uncertain Future with Patchwork of Part Time Employment 

Forty percent of Millenials are underemployed — working part-time jobs, contract jobs, temp jobs, or one-time gigs. They do everything from waitressing, to online marketing, to freelance journalism and are not purchasing big-ticket items, like buying cars, apartments or houses. Most can’t even think of saving for retirement, reports Sarah Gardner who has been tracking young part-timers for Marketplace’s ‘Consumed‘ series.

Part-time, contract and freelance gigs are on the rise in the U.S. economy. In fact, according to the American Staffing Association, over 40 percent more people have temp jobs now than in 2009; and many college-educated 20-somethings are working them.

Underemployment and The Adjunct Crisis:

the Part-Time crisis affects everyone. Below, is an excerpt from Jrshoskins’s blog on the Adjunct Crisis:

First, coffee. Then, file for unemployment, the absurd moment, dreaded…a vision of the dead end. How many times have I applied? 40? 50? Who’s counting? It’s just part of the “job.” Once the tentative agreement expires, and I have no reasonable assurance of being rehired, I am unemployed. The shame. It is absurd…I must embrace the absurdity, stifle the nausea and…collect the pittance I am due, which I have earned already. Seemingly, in some meager attempt to compensate for the inequity of my pay (to make it ok?), a California court awarded me and my adjuncts across the state the right to file for and receive unemployment wages, once the semester ends and the tentative agreement expires.

Breakfast.

Then what? Oh, to work. Final compositions of introductory and advanced students, lengthy, researched tomes, about 5 dozen to evaluate. And calculate and assign a grade for each student. One sent me a paper on Google docs. Some requested that I make comments on their papers. Shall I take odds on how many will return next fall for their comments? How closely should I mark them? What wisdom might I impart to my erstwhile students, at this moment, after the tentative agreement has expired?

Ah, the absurdity. I must embrace it, and take the pittance, for the lean times ahead.

And now, to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaders in Entrepreneurship Share 8 Paths to Becoming Great

Below are 8 Takeaways from this Year’s Top Entrepreneurs Fireside chats at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

#1 Great Leaders Attract The Best and The Brightest Talent

Great Leadership creates an environment that attracts the best and the brightest people. Progressive leaders understand that talented professionals seek workplaces where autonomous judgement is encouraged. This means less micromanagement, and more empowerment. “With them you share the financial and psychic rewards of success,” states Mark Leslie, who teaches courses in Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Organization for Stanford Graduate School of Business

For basketball prodigy-turned-business mogul, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the best and brightest talent comes in diverse packages. “Magic” argues that great leadership “hires the way America looks,” adding that “in the next 20 years, half, or more than half of America is going to be minorities.”  Hiring bright minorities has multiple payoffs. On the one hand, they bring a desire to prove themselves, states Johnson, and on the other, they also contribute valuable insights into cultural markets and communities.

For me it’s easy. I like to hire young, bright people. You have to have people skills to work for me, too. It’s not just being smart. I want somebody who can also go out, represent us and grow the brand,” states “Magic” Johnson.

#2 Great Leadership Builds Stewardship not Proprietorship

Talented professionals seek more than just a paycheck. They are looking for a feeling of belonging that happens when an employee is well-matched to a work community; they want to be an integral part of something special. Great leaders tap into this knowledge, and adjust their language to reflect inclusivity.

In a proprietorship, states Mark Leslie, the language of a company is “I, Me, Mine, What can you do to make me more rich?” In a stewardship, “it is we, us and ours.” The idea of stewardship focuses on collective power, and companies that practice stewardship use words like, “together.”  Bright professionals seek to join the latter, knowing that their talent will not only grow someone else’s business, but also their own.

#3 Great Leaders Know How To Build Community And Pay Attention To Culture:

The responsibility of a leader is to think of the group as a whole, states Stanford Graduate School of Business professor, Jesper Sorensen.To attract and retain talent, a good leader strategically organizes their people with particular attention to incentives. Without them, bright talent may experience a block in their growth, and look for opportunities elsewhere.

#4 Great Leaders Build Trust

To build trust, a leader trusts first.  “This is something many people are reluctant to do,” argues Leslie. Going first, means sharing decision-making that most companies wouldn’t dare to allow. There are some risks in trusting first, concedes Leslie. The trust you place in your group can be betrayed, “but the cost of the occasional betrayal is far lower than the benefit of building trust with the rest of the people.”

 It benefits leaders to build a trusting environment. “Trust is like a bank account. Someday, you are going to have hard times and you are going to want people to stand by you. And if you haven’t’ made any deposits in the trust bank, then there’s going to be nothing to take out,” stresses Leslie.

#5 Great Leaders Check their Ego At the Door and Learn from Failure

If great leaders expect punctuality, they are the first to get to work. They lead with confidence, but they are also aware of their weaknesses and surround themselves with experts who complement their expertise. They have overcome adversity, faced criticism and experienced failures. But these have not defined nor defeated them. When projects have fallen apart, they have searched for lessons, what did we learn when we didn’t win?

#6 Great Leaders Seek Mentors

Great leaders are not shy about asking questions. “Mentors were so important to me. That’s why I was meeting with so many people, because I was hungry for knowledge,” states Magic Johnson on his transition from basketball player to CEO. “Magic,” recalls that his first test as an entrepreneur was gaining respect and credibility from the business world. He had raw ideas but needed help to translate them into power.

Great leaders listen, tweak their plans when necessary, swiftly alter paths, and can adjust to unforeseen circumstances without losing their vision. They understand that flexibility and adaptability are not signs of weakness, but rather strategic adjustments to change.

#7 Great Leaders Figure Out What a Company is Doing Right and Does More Of It

When joining a new company in a senior leadership role, HP CEO, Meg Whitman, encourages leaders to figure out what a company is doing right, and do more of it.

Your instinct will be to fix what is wrong,” argues Whitman, “to make a list of all the things that need to be fixed and go after them. You’ll eventually get to your to do list, and your fix it list. But if you come in and talk about what is going wrong, you will lose hearts and minds.”

Instead, Whitman advises to start with what’s working and to get acquainted with a company’s DNA. When it comes to good leadership, Whitman states that it is important to win the hearts and minds of people, to promote talent from within, as well as attract talent from innovators in the industry. When people connect over a shared area of business, the company’s culture thrives.

As you immerse yourself in your new role, and find that you lack in technological abilities, “surround yourself with people who will help you plot the technology path.” Even when you try to protect what is working in a company, there will be those who will challenge your new role and test you, “don’t be afraid to push back, and lead.”

#8 Great Leaders Know They Cannot Do It All

As she wrapped up her interview with Stanford graduate students, a student asked the HP CEO how she juggled her leadership role with family duties. She responded that it had not always been easy. At first, she had struggled to be the perfect mother, perfect CEO and the perfect charity person. Once she realized perfection in all areas wasn’t possible, she gave up on some things.

My house does not look like Martha Stewart just left. Everything’s a tradeoff.”

 

 

 

Continue reading “Leaders in Entrepreneurship Share 8 Paths to Becoming Great”

Celebrating National Entrepreneurs’ Day-Entrepreneurial Spirit Remains Strong in the U.S.

Small Businesses On The Rise

On November 3rd, 2015, Rep. Steve Chabot [R] from Ohio proposed RES. 511, a bill expressing support for designation of the third Tuesday in November as National Entrepreneurs’ Day.

Below I share highlights of the text. Also included, are charts and maps from various reputable sources that underscore the immense contributions of small business owners to the economic fabric of the United States. Continue reading “Celebrating National Entrepreneurs’ Day-Entrepreneurial Spirit Remains Strong in the U.S.”

Career Pivoting-A Sign of the New American Dream

 

 

Today’s professionals are looking for more than stability and a paycheck.

Gone are the days when you took that first job right out of college, and stayed with the company for 20 years. In fact, the Bureau of Labor states that our generation’s average tenure at a job is 4.6 years, with 2.5 years being the typical length of stay for the younger professionals.[1]

Career experts argue that this is the result of a complex vision of Success that has emerged in our generation. For today’s millennials, compensation is not enough. Equally important are passion, professional growth, variety and flexibility.

NON-LINEAR CAREER PATHS ARE THE NEW NORMAL

Wage-earners seek flexibility and control over their personal lives.

We are living in the era of the independent professional, a trend fueled by technological innovations that enable us to work from untraditional places– to be work nomads, if we please. This move is part of the new American Dream, as witnessed in HGTV shows like, Househunter’s International, where entrepreneurs grab their laptops, surfboards and passports in search of that perfectly balanced life.

The thirst for independent work is enabling the rise of e-lancing with 53 million people, 1/3 of the workforce, identifying themselves as freelancers or doing independent work, according to Jody Greenstone Miller, the Founder and CEO of Business Talent Group.[2]

ARE YOU READY FOR A CAREER PIVOT?

Here are some signs:

  • You are uninspired
  • The drive to work fills you with dread. It’s not only the long commute. It’s everything.
  • You have plateaued. There is no more room for growth.
  • You call in sick more than you should, and you don’t care.
  • Your job is really making you sick
  • You are leaving; it’s just a matter of when.
  • You would like your family’s support but you are willing to leap out without it.
  • You picked the wrong major, now you hate your job, and despite the loans, your professional happiness is nonnegotiable.
  • A new passion is calling you.
  • You are over working for others. It’s risky but want to work for yourself.
  • You want less work, more play, and less structure.

 

HOW TO MANAGE THE PIVOT SUCCESSFULLY?

Marketing Makeover

To smooth the transition, you will need to market yourself, give your resume a makeover, and identify areas where you are weak and in need of training. Highlight your transferable skills. Prepare to convince a new industry that you are ready to succeed in a new environment.

Online Makeover

Spruce up your online profiles. Update your photos, reorganize your skills and talents, and make sure that your LinkedIn profile doesn’t box you into an old persona that could confuse prospective employers.

Convince Your Employer That your Pivot is not an Accident But a True Career Change

If you are career changing, expect prospective employers to be skeptical. You will have to defend your new passion and convincingly explain the end of your previous one.

Avoiding Mistakes

The biggest mistake is waiting for a perfect moment, because it will never come, states Elli Sharef, guest writer for Forbes.[3] Insecurity will keep you stuck and your mind will give you countless excuses why you should not move forward. This is fear talk. If you know you are ready for the change, don’t look back.

CAREER PIVOTING –EXPECT BUMPS, BUT BELIEVE IN ITS PROMISE

It won’t happen overnight. When you finally make the pivot, you may find that the position is not everything you thought it would be. You may have to start in an entry level role, regardless of your years of experience in a previous industry.  Your degree may have little to do with where and how you are placed. You may be assigned duties you feel are beneath you, or responsibilities that push you out of your comfort zone. Getting the pivot right could take a series of trial and errors.

It May Take Some Time

To minimize detours, do your research and make sure you understand the lifestyle, environment and responsibilities that will come with a career shift. It might not work out the first time. If you err, don’t beat yourself down, or backpedal into safety. Take the lessons the detours will teach you, shake it off, and start over.

In the Meantime-Freelance, Intern, Volunteer

Since it can take time to transition successfully, Jody Greenstone Miller suggests taking on project work, freelancing and even interning, a practice, she argues, that is not the sole realm o f college students, but could also work for professional adults. Mature interns, as the movie The Intern (2015) starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway captures, bring a lot to the table; a beneficial collaboration could be reached between the company you are considering and your experienced self. In the meantime, working on projects, or interning will help you stay balanced, avoid obsessing over the timing of the switch, and keep you sociable and sharp.

FROM SECURE INDUSTRY TO BECOMING YOUR OWN BOSS

Sometimes the pivot is not from one industry to another, but from working for someone else to becoming your own boss. In the ultimate leap of faith, the entrepreneur may leave a stable salary, a predictable career path, reserved parking, perks, and a trail of accomplishments behind.

Taking the leap to be your own boss can be scary. Very scary. This is especially true if your background is in one industry, but your dream is to start a business in another,” states Darrah Brustein, a contributor for Entrepreneur.[4]

In addition to the fears associated with leaving a secure job, entrepreneurs may risk disappointing family, a risk that Brustein argues is worth taking, since those who love us tend to come around and support our happiness.

HOW WILL YOU MANAGE YOUR CAREER TRAJECTORY?

You may find yourself facing this type of fork in the road. From the outside, you may seem like picture of success. But inside, you may be uninspired and done. For Kelsey Ramsden, writer for Entrepreneur, this is a telling sign that an imminent career pivot is in the horizon: “I’ve never met someone who says she regrets leaving a situation she dreaded each day.[5]

How will you manage your next career move?

Will you allow passion and curiosity to drive the next step? Or will you play it safe?

What is at stake is your happiness.

How will you choose?

[1] http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/tenure_09182014.pdf
[2] [Stanford Graduate School of Business]. (2015, May 15). Career Pivot: Build Your Knowledge Base. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdqCOPM3bBU&index=3&list=PLxq_lXOUlvQDNqzjeVZ9_ZiC4aMCoI1i5
[3] Sharef, E. (2013, July 26). An Entrepreneur Tells All: How To Make A Career Pivot. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2013/07/26/an-entrepreneur-tells-all-how-to-make-a-career-pivot/
[4]Brustein, D. (2015, July 20). 9 Entrepreneurs Tell Their Stories of Pivoting 180 Degrees to Start New Careers. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/246965
[5] Ramsden, K. (2014, August 26). Bravely Facing the Epic Decision of a Career Pivot. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236809

 

How Do You Know You Are On The Right Path?

 

How Do You Know What Dream, and What Job Belongs To You? 

Here’s a Clue: “You are Not in a Position to Betray Yourself,” states spiritual leader and teacher, Carolyn Myss, in a sit down with Oprah Winfrey for her series, Super Soul Sundays. 

Continue reading “How Do You Know You Are On The Right Path?”