DENVER (CBS4) – Every year thousands of teens age out of the foster care system on their 18th birthday. They are on their own whether they’re ready for it or not. And statistics show they don’t fare well. Many of them end up homeless, unemployed, drug addicted, or in jail. Gordon Davidson faced that same fate.
“It’s a trap. Kids are not prepared to enter life without influence, without guidance, without education,” Davidson said.
CBS4 SPECIAL REPORTS: Aging Out
After 13 years in foster care, Davidson was kicked out of his foster home on his 18th birthday.
“Within a year I was out on the streets. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any people really in my corner that I was able to rely on,” he explained.
Davidson stayed on friends’ couches for a few years while he struggled to get control of his life. Then he found a program called Bridging the Gap at Mile High United Way. The program supports teens who are aging out of foster care.
LINK: Bridging the Gap
“We really try to engage each youth and figure out where they are and how with what’s available they can take advantage and really sort of get a grasp on a future,” Davidson told CBS4.
He volunteers for the program now, acting as mentor for other teens who are going through what he went through.
Davidson was able to get a college degree and land a job as an IT Specialist at Mile High United Way.
LINK: Mile High United Way
“I was really lucky I had some really good people and some good scholarships that helped push me in the right direction.
Now Davidson is 30 years old and he’s a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie. He skydives, rock climbs, cliff dives, and backcountry snowboards.
“I spend a lot of my fun time getting super extreme. It compliments some of the extremities I had to overcome in my youth years,” Davidson said.
He’s also working on the issues that surround the kids in foster care including making it easier for youth in foster care to get access to vital documents, backing legislation that would make sibling visits mandatory, and expanding Medicaid coverage for these teens from 18 to 21.
“These teenage kids, they get written off. And when you get written off and you don’t have any help, it’s hard to feel like your self-worth is anything,” Davidson said.
Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you’d like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.