Adopted by her grandmother as an infant, Blanca Merced re-entered foster care after getting into trouble as a teenager. While living in a group home she became a part of the first population of 17 year olds ever to be surveyed for the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD). Blanca admits that she was initially interested in participating because of the $25 gift card incentive but after hearing that the survey would, “give a voice to people who are in care”, she was all in. For Blanca the survey provided the rare chance to be heard. “In day-to-day life no one listens to me and I thought it was kind of cool that they were actually using like people’s opinions, like teenager’s opinions, for the greater good.”
Two years later, Blanca has already completed her 18 and 19 year old follow-up NYTD surveys. Since being reunited with her grandmother a year ago, Blanca has stayed connected to Foster Forward through door-opener events. She has participated in everything from a summer trip to Six Flags to group conversations around pregnancy prevention for youth in care. This past fall she was even asked to take part in a NYTD focus group for the Administration for Children and Families.
“The focus group where we talked about the results…made me feel like, ok well what I’m doing is actually like making some—it’s actually doing something and it’s doing some good.”
As for the future of NYTD, Blanca hopes that it will encourage young people to think more positively about their experience in care. “Pay attention to the things that we do like having while in care rather than what we hate about being in care.”