How many children are in foster families? Conference and Resource Fair aimed at overcoming the opportunities of homelessness

HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — A unique event is taking place this weekend to show those who may feel forgotten that opportunities exist for them.

Justin Hayward knows what it’s like to be in the foster care system.

“We’re like the forgotten bunch,” Hayward explained. “We are a group of young people that people think we don’t exist. The older you get, the harder it gets because the more unforgettable you become.”

A loss that leads to a difficult start in life. The National Center for Housing and Child Welfare said more than 20,000 people were left without foster care in 2020.

Data shows more than 5,000 will be homeless by 2024. Only 600 will earn a bachelor’s degree.

“To be honest, it hurts,” Hayward said. “It hits a different place because when I hear those numbers, I’m a part of those numbers.”

Hayward was homeless and does not have a bachelor’s degree. But he’s trying to change that.

He started a clothing line to spread awareness. On Saturday he does even more.

He is the moderator of an event aimed at empowering youth.

“Even if you don’t know who you are, don’t give up on the person you see in the mirror,” Hayward said. “That’s the message I have for my younger self and the people who will be at the event.”

The event will take place at the Region 4 Education Service Center in northwest Houston. More than 40 vendors will be there.

Attendees can learn about mental wellbeing, how to get into college, and how to find a job. The event is an attempt to reduce the number of foster youth who become homeless. If you are unable to attend, the HAY Center is another option.

“We’re trying to prevent that,” says Workforce Solutions Senior Planner Anna Kluth. “We’re trying to support all of these youth before they grow old from foster youth and to help those who may have been in foster youth.”

An event Hayward said he wished he had attended as a kid.

“You don’t want to get older and look back and be like, ‘I wish I had,'” Hayward said.

Which is why Hayward agreed to be a moderator. He did it to prove himself and hopes to show others that they can too.

New You, New Opportunities Youth Conference and Resource Fair begins October 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 7145 W. Tidwell Road.

For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Russell Falcon

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