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Shining light on the 'Invisible Population'

May is Foster Care Awareness month.

At least 10,000 kids across the state are in foster care.
And many of those children will bounce from house to house.
That journey -- is even more difficult -- for older kids.
May is foster care awareness month.

A reminder for some that nobody gets to choose their biological parents.

Connections to Independence, a nonprofit helping Twin Cities youth in the foster caster system, supports 14- 24-year old’s. The program shows participants how to apply for college, navigate relationship and secure jobs and heal from trauma. To continue that help the non-profit will host a Kentucky Derby themed fundraiser Saturday in honor of foster care awareness month.  The annual fundraiser, Run for the Roses, is May 4 from 3:00 p.m. – 7 :00 p.m. It is happening at the Warehouse Winery, 6415 Cambridge Street in Minneapolis.

Jessica Rogers runs the program. She knows firsthand the trauma some of the youth are unpacking.

“When I was born I was born into foster care and adopted. My biological mother was 15 when she had me and. 14 when she had my sister and our father was 35. A non-consensual relationship,” she said. “I wish you could say we had a magic curriculum.  If you could teach a logic model on love here that is what we do here.”

Rogers said about 98-percent of youth in their program graduate or obtain a GED and 60-percent go on to post-secondary institutions. The program is specifically designed to meet the county’s goals for youth foster care to increase the number of successful departures from the foster care system.

“They call them the invisible population because people don't know that they exist. A lot of folks don't know they have the barriers that they do when it comes to aging out at 18 and 21,” Rogers said. “People understand hunger. They understand homelessness. They understand LGBTQ population barriers and issues. The one population who affects all of those are the youth who are aging out of the foster care system.”

Rogers is committed to help youth passing through the program write new endings to their stories. Two youth who participated in the program and survived abuse told KARE 11 the program helped them thrive. One lady, now 19, has plans to become a social worker. She wants to work with others in the foster care system to help them navigate and avoid the experience she had.

For more information and tickets visit www.c2iyouth.org

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