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Aging Out
My Story
David Griffin
Risa Bejarano
Daniella Anderson
Keely Lopez
Thomas Hudson

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Ready or Not
Venetta Williams, Risa's case manager, completed the paperwork for Risa's emancipation. Williams was thrilled to hear that Risa was on her way to school. "We never get anyone to emancipate that is going to college, that has a plan, that is going to be working," said Venetta. "We are so proud. We're happy, Risa, we're happy for you. I was bragging, saying, 'My girl's graduated already.'"

After a decade in the foster care system, Risa made her last court appearance. She spent the summer socializing with her friends and preparing for college.

Risa and friend celebrate graduation
Risa and friend were excited about their upcoming graduation.
RISA: The summer since I wasn't going to school, all I was doing was partying and coming home late, staying out with friends. I went out with my sister a lot. We'd do all kinds of drugs and stuff like alcohol and weed and stuff like that. I started experimenting like drugs and I guess Dolores noticed I was changing a lot.

Dolores talked to Risa about her behavior. Alhough she was extremely close to Risa and felt she was like a daughter, Dolores was concerned about how Risa's actions might impact her other foster children. She shared her fears with Risa, "I also have a job here. I have young girls and I don't want them to see this."

RISA: I was disappointed that she found out. I also feel like I let her down. I don't think I'm going to try drugs in college. I'm going to school for a reason and I worked hard enough to get there. I know I'm not going to touch that stuff there. I'm taking everything with me, except my turtle. I'm kind of happy, because I've always wanted to emancipate from the system, but I'm also sad because it's a really nice home.

I want to get somewhere, but there're so many obstacles, like I'm lost.  Aging out now is scary.
Risa emancipation video

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