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June Barker

Help with school, housing enables former foster youth to live independently

“I was born into the foster care system,” said June Barker. And that is where she spent much of her life—in several different foster homes as well as time with her aunt and grandmother, until her grandmother passed away—until she aged out of the system at age 21.

“It was emotionally hard for me,” she said. “I didn’t do my best in school. I wasn’t prepared” for adulthood. “With my experience in foster care, the importance of having a good high school career was not talked about. I didn’t like the fact that school was not a priority and my emotional health was being ignored.” 

Support systems are critical to foster youth, said Barker. That includes not only teams of people who come together for court dates but support teams that help children reach their goals, she added. One of those support systems for Barker was Connections to Independence (C2i), a service and advocacy organization, under contract with Hennepin County, to help foster youth make healthy transitions to adulthood.

“C2i helped me get an apartment, take care of myself, register for classes and budget—because I like to shop,” she said with a smile. 

Barker also got help from the Minnesota Department of Human Services Education and Training Voucher Program to pay for some of her college expenses at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, where she is working toward a degree in Early Childhood Education. She’s also employed full-time.

Foster youth need more resources to pay for college and find jobs, she said. C2i and the Education and Training Voucher Program as well as other programs help but support from foster parents—including emphasizing the importance of school and work—is critical as well, she noted.

In Minnesota, nearly 14,700 children are in out-of-home placement; almost 12,200 of them are in family foster care. For more information about foster care, see the department’s foster care fact sheet. For information about how to become a foster parent, visit the foster care page.

Photograph of  June  Barker
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