A PHILLIPS Moment: Stories that Bind Us You may be following the story of Thomas McRae, the 20 year old college student and Capitol Hill intern who has lived in 22 foster care placements in his short life (Read the full story in the Washington Post here). One can only imagine the experiences that could forever affect a child when the adults fail to provide a stable childhood. Yet Thomas appears to have overcome tremendous adversity and is exemplifying the qualities of a well-grounded, thoughtful and mature young man. Why is that?

Why do some youth exit difficult circumstances seemingly unscathed, and I do not for a moment think  Thomas is unscathed, while others who may have experienced a more stable childhood, make decisions that end in life long chaos. Research has shown that several protective factors available during one’s childhood increase the chance of a competent and confident adulthood. Prime amongst these are having a caring adult in their life; caring teachers and adults outside the family.

One characteristic identified by the children and youth served at PHILLIPS Programs as being most important to them are the relationships they have developed with their teachers, counselors and foster parents. The stories we hear from former foster care youth and students highlights the long lasting impact that these relationships have had.

Last week PHILLIPS Teaching Homes (PTH) offered Camp LIFE, an independent living program, for high school youth in foster care. In attendance was Chely, a former PTH youth who is headed for university life this coming year with aspirations of being a social worker. She said she wants to give back because she was helped so much during her 6 years in foster care.

There appears to have been positive influences in Thomas’ life with an immensely encouraging outcome. He is an inspiration to us all to reach out and support our youth. That outreach clearly makes a difference.

We are gathering our stories, entitled A PHILLIPS Moment: Stories that Bind Us, and will be sharing them. The youth we serve and their resiliency are what bind us together and inspire our staff.

Thank you,

Piper Phillips Caswell

President & CEO