For National Foster Care Awareness month it is valuable to acknowledge how many people and organizations are doing good for youth in foster care every day. Raising kids takes a village, raising kids who have experienced loss and trauma takes an even mightier village - a village that doesn't always get the recognition it deserves. D&M is grateful for all HopSkip Drive does for youth in foster care and are pleased to share their story here.
An obstacle many Americans face today is getting their children everywhere they need to be, safely and on time. When most families have a single parent household and/or two full-time working parents finding transportation is not always easy.
Hop Skip Drive was created a little over 4 years ago by three moms who had 8 kids between them and a total of 20 after school activities! They knew they weren’t the only families struggling and sought out a solution. Since then they have perfected a fix, providing transit for children and youth throughout California, Colorado, and Virginia and will be available in Texas and Arizona this summer! Currently they have almost 2,000 partners and have driven over 4 million miles.
They have a thorough vetting process to ensure parents, caregivers, and children know they are safe. Care Drivers must have a minimum of 5 years of caregiving experience and must pass an extensive 15-point safety and background checks as well as federal and local fingerprinting. They use the same testing social service agencies use to determine if you’re suitable to work with children! There is also a team who monitor every single Care Driver, from an hour before the child is picked up until they have safely reached their destination. On top of all that and more, the kids and drivers are given a secret code word to add an extra layer of safety.
We spoke with Sheronda Helton, Director of Public Partnerships regarding our favorite thing about Hop Skip Drive! “We provide school of origin transportation of foster youth. That is hugely important because that allows children to stay in their home school even if they’ve been removed from their home or because of housing instability. It provides them with a sense of community and normalcy. Being able to maintain that part of their lives has a huge impact on students for the long term.” All Care Drivers have mandated reporter & trauma informed care training! They are continuing to expand their services nationally, and are in a larger conversation at a state level and looking at different legislation to get more involved to make sure there is further funding for foster youth. “It is our mission to remove the barriers to mobility. Mobility is really a social justice issue that we really don’t talk about a lot. We talk so much more about programs and opportunities that have been created for foster students but the reality is students cannot participate if they don’t have reliable transportation to make that happen. Having a well-rounded childhood experience includes participating in after school and enrichment programs and getting jobs and internships and they should not be penalized for something they have no control over.”
Thank you for being an advocate for youth in foster care!
If you’d like more information about Hop Skip Drive you can find that here!