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IF I KNEW THEN, WHAT I KNOW NOW

IF I KNEW THEN, WHAT I KNOW NOW

 

Recently, the Bergen County Youth Advisory Board had a meeting and discussed what they had learned over the years of being in the system.  Several of the youth wished someone had given them some “insider tips” back when they were starting to figure it all out.  Below are some of the things they wish they would have known back then.

GO TO COURT.  PARTICIPATE IN MEETINGS.  SPEAK UP!

Wear something nice.  Let them know everything you need and don’t have.  If you don’t understand something let them know and have them explain it.  Write down everything that happens.  Don’t be quiet if your worker is lying; tell her that in court in front of everyone.

THERE ARE WAYS TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR SELF

If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve advocated for myself.  In my situation when I didn’t advocate for myself a lot of things that I didn’t want to happen, happened to me.  For example, I did not want to get adopted and by not going to court and speaking to the judge I almost got adopted.  There are ways to advocate.  First off, you should ALWAYS talk to any type of authority that can do things for you.  For example, DYFS workers, CMO workers, YES workers, etc. 

Also, be clear about what you want.  If you want to leave you shouldn’t just say you want to leave.  You should include things like why, when and where you would like to go.  Also, speak nicely, even if you’re aggravated.  Be calm, cool, and collected.

SAVE YOUR MONEY!

…because you will need it in the long run.  Saving money will help you when you get older to pay your bills on time.  If you save your money then you can have a whole lot of fun.  School needs to help kids learn about saving money.  Saving money is very important because you need to know how to save money to live, and move on to bigger and better things in life.  It is hard for people without money; so everyone should learn now to save money when they become a teenager.  They should open a savings and checking account.  One so they can spend money and the other so they can save money and add on to it.

LEARN THE BUS SYSTEM

If I knew then what I know now, I would have learned the bus system.  Learning the bus system is not as hard as it may seem.  There are many reasons why you should learn this.  One reason being, no matter what people tell you, transportation is not always provided for you.  Also, when you get older, you should gain responsibility.  Part of being responsible is getting from one place to another by yourself.

                When learning the bus system you should remember some things.  You should always take a bus schedule.  DYFS will provide you with a bus pass if you ask them before a certain time of the month.  Also, read the bus schedule!  You cannot just go to the bus stop and expect the bus to be there. THE BUS WILL NOT RUN ON YOUR PERSONAL SCHEDULE.

GET GOOD GRADES AND DO YOUR SCHOOL WORK

If you don’t get good grades you can’t go to college and you can’t get things you want out of life.  When I was younger I used to get bad grades, all F’s.  Then when I got to high school everything changed.  I wanted to get good grades but then I had learning gaps, so I had to work hard to get where I needed to be.  I even stayed back once because of not knowing what I needed to know.  Now this year is my last year of high school and I’m doing really well in school and I will be able to become whatever I want to be in life.  Without a good education you can’t do anything with your life.  You don’t want to live off of people because they will get tired of you, kick you out, and then you will be living on the street.  Now, that’s not the life you want, so do good in school.

HOW TO ANSWER TOUGH QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR FAMILY

I would first count to five in my head then try to answer it.

If it gets too personal then I would try to stop that person before it turns into an argument.

I would try to get around the questions then come back to the questions at a later time/date.

People shouldn’t even be asking tough questions like that because that’s a personal topic to many people.  Many wouldn’t answer; many would get offended, many would get sad and shut down.

 

 Get Along with Housemates/Foster siblings/Roomates

I find the best way to get along with roomates is to be yourself, dont isolate yourself, and be organized! If I had known this two or three years ago, getting along with my housemates would have been much easier.

Be yourself!Nobody likes fake people. I definitely don't! Don't try to be someone you're not. It will make you a stronger person and more of a leader.

Talk to your roomates. Don't isolate yourself. Interact with them! Do some group activities or ask them to go on a walk. Eat dinner with your housemates. It will make your life a lot easier.

Be organized! Most people don't like a messy roomate. Try to clean your room at least once a week and make your bed everyday. That is one thing I learned from my group homes.

 

The Allowances Stop

The advice I would give when the allowances stop would be to get a job. Don't take every placement for granted. Save everything and listen!

Start looking for a job early. When people tell you it's hard, believe me, it's hard. Apply yourself and don't be too picky about what job you take, especially if you don't have any experience.

Save everything! Everything your earn from your allowance and work you should save at least half.

Don't be argumentative. Everytihing they teach you does come on handy(I know, It's surprising.)Don't take these placements for granted.

I really wish I had someone to tell me these things a few years ago when staff was handing out money to clean the kitchen all week. It's not like that in the real world; you really need to be independent and having a savings account helps with that.

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