"They saw me as someone who could achieve the highest goal"In 2015, a soon to be fifteen-year-old adolescent found herself moving from her home in Liberia, Africa to the United States of America. “My Mom had four other children, she was struggling. When my dad passed away, my mom gave me to a neighbor who brought me to this country for a better way of life," explained Betty.
She arrived in Connecticut as a teenager with a 3rd-grade level of education and could not speak English.
Unfortunately, Betty felt unsafe with this family friend and disclosed her concerns to her cooking mentor, Maggie, who notified DCF. Maggie and her husband, Frank, recognized the supports Betty needed and agreed to become a licensed kinship resource for her–and a permanent part of her life. “Maggie and Frank will always be my family," Betty explained. "I am so happy they are in my life."
Betty shared that it was because of their unconditional love and guidance that she was able to find her way. "They saw me as someone who could achieve the highest goal."
“Her spirit is unbroken," shared her foster father, Frank. "Despite the hardships she has encountered, Betty is the one that saved herself. Maggie and I were just there to help her to do so. She's strong and smart, and I know that where she is now is just a step to something far greater."
Betty's internal strength was evident even as a young child. While in Liberia, Betty spent her time taking care of other people’s children so that she could make money to pay for school fees, uniforms and school supplies. “Learning was so important to me," explained Betty. Caring for other people’s children and the added expense of school created many barriers for her. She stopped attending school as a young child.
Betty flourished with the support of her newly formed family and embraced the opportunities provided to her.
“When I arrived in the US, I had no time for fun. I had a lot of schooling to catch up on. There is something new to learn every day and I wanted to learn as much as I could." Betty said. "How can I explain this? Everyone in my school here in the US had so much experience. I didn’t know all that they knew, and I wanted to know more."
“Betty politely reprimanded her peers for not taking school seriously. She was seen by her teachers as a polite and enthusiastic young lady who viewed education opportunities as a privilege," her DCF Social Worker, Adrian Perez explained. "Gaps in education created challenges for Betty; however, what stuck out to all of her school support team was her hard work, diligence, and perseverance. She maintains a consistent eagerness to learn and wholeheartedly appreciates the education that has been available and provided to her."
Betty values SW Perez’s guidance. “I am very close with her, she comes to visit me, she helps me with my problems and makes sure that I feel comfortable," she said.
Betty graduated this spring from Shepaug Valley High School and will achieve a certificate for a Certified Nurse’s Assistant (CNA). While in high school, Betty played soccer, ran track and was a cheerleader. She plans to pursue a degree in nursing in the fall.
Betty is now a transitional aged youth (TAY) and recently moved into her own apartment, receiving additional supports from a community provider. “She has been working with a great case manager who is helping with the transition from her foster home to living as a young adult," Ms. Perez explained.
Betty, when asked about her experience with the Department, paused for a moment. “Ah, DCF, what more can I say. I have no blood family here but DCF is my family. It was such a good experience. I have learned so much and they have helped me in many ways. I will never be able to repay them for my gratitude," she stated.
"I am human just like everyone else. I am relieved to know that now. I will keep talking to myself, being positive, and let the people who care about me help me get to where I need to be."