Entering the foster care system nine years ago at the age of 10, Natasha came from a background of abuse. But thanks to Boys Town New England's Foster Family Services program, she gained an understanding of coping skills for how to process emotions in a positive way. She became able to accept 'no' as an answer, disagree appropriately, and talk through and explain the way she was feeling.
Natasha's foster mother of nine years set clear and consistent expectations to follow. Faith, her Boys Town Foster Family Services Consultant, describes the home as “a tight ship – where positive behavior gains rewards, and not following through brings negative consequences."
Natasha has since impacted the lives of incoming children who needed a positive role model within the home. Her foster mom credits Natasha with taking the initiative to help younger youth in the home, acting as a positive role model. They see Natasha has been in their shoes, realizing if they listen and do things correctly, they'll thrive as well.
Recently, a youth entered the home with a similar traumatic past as Natasha, along with comparable troubling behaviors. This juvenile began watching how Natasha reacted to situations, performed in school – paying attention to her grades, and how she interacted with her peers and foster parents. Natasha's model behavior of focusing her energy on good grades, school, friends, relationships and what it takes to be overall successful, aided in the foster youth's performance evolving positively within a month-and-a-half of her arrival to the home.
Before transitioning out of the foster care system and on to independent living, Natasha realized she would need a little more assistance. The challenge of graduating from high school and navigating the outside world can be overwhelming. Faith praised Natasha with advocating for her own needs and asking for help when she needed it. This resulted in a one-year extension within her foster home.
“My family encouraged me to speak up for the things I wanted," Natasha said. “They taught me I have input and to not be afraid to have a say. That it will benefit me in the long-run."
With the help of a resource worker, Natasha was linked to additional support for her first year of attending college. She obtained information on scholarships, which she followed through on and took advantage of.
Natasha graduated from high school while working a part-time job and entered a state university studying criminal justice during the fall of 2021. She made the Dean's List after her first semester.
“It has taken years of guidance and redirection to get where I am today," Natasha said. “My family has given me guidance, understanding and multiple second chances to see me change. That support made me want to do better."
Armed with the tools and confidence she needed to turn her life around, Natasha is on her way to a productive life. She will transition to independent living at the end of the spring semester.
“Independent living will give me insight on things I may have been blinded to – things my parents take care of," she said. “The change will be more than environmental. I'm not scared, I look forward to learning new skills and making progress."
Outside of graduating from college, Natasha's goals for the future are being happy and making other people happy, along with financial stability.
“Natasha has made amazing progress during her time with us," Faith said. “She has been defying all statistics and is a leader, role model, hard-working, goal-oriented and a special young adult."