Well, I am a bit embarrassed to admit my "blog disappearance." But...the fact is, I haven't written in my blog since last August, and I am sure my "many" loyal followers have long since found better things to do with their time. Of late, I have been thinking much about the blog and how I want to get it going once again, and giving consideration to the question of "do I really have something worthwhile to say?" I have come to the conclusion I do have things to say, and some of those things might be considered important to others, and not just to me alone. If I am to resurrect my blog, however, I have to write something of substance at least five times per week. After much thought, and with ongoing prayer, and I am making a commitment to do so. But...as they say, words are cheap. So let's see what happens. Stay tuned, and I think you will find my edge can be sharp, and at times provocative. I will step on toes, and you may want to step on mine back. Often, I hope to allow you to see into the deep areas of my mind regarding a host of mental health related topics, and hopefully, you will feel compelled to weigh in to agree, disagree, and to offer your own thoughts on timely, relevant, mental health topics. So...let's begin.
Not surprisingly, I am returning to the topic of Transitional Age Youth, ages 16 to 25. As noted in blogs last summer, our city, state, and country are failing miserably to come to terms with these growing numbers of older teens and young adults who are not being supported and prepared to transition into healthy, emancipated, taxpaying, law abiding, effective child rearing, adults. The above statement is shockingly true for those teens living in foster care, housed in juvenile justice, or getting away from severely dysfunctional families. Teens in foster care and juvenile justice are NOT being prepared for adulthood and adult responsibility by those in charge of their care prior to age 18. Officials with Oklahoma Juvenile Authority (OJA) and Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of coming to grips with the reality these young adults will face upon turning age 18 and "aging out of the system." To even consider for a moment that the so called Yes I Can program is adequate to meet the needs of these kids represents the height of denial. Elected officials who claim they are for effective use of taxpayer funds should rise up and declare a statewide crisis as these young adults are getting pregnant, becoming homeless, and becoming incarcerated at alarming rates, creating a next generation of dysfunctional, state draining, non-taxpaying adults who cannot contribute to the community and state in a positive fashion.
Do you think I am making this up? Then try out this idea. Imagine anyone reading this has a dependent child turning 18 tomorrow. When your child walks out of their bedroom on their 18th birthday tomorrow, hand them a card with a 1 800 number linked to a stranger who will tell them, if they call, what benefits will be available to them after age 18, along with all of the "ifs, ands, buts" related to their ability to access these benefits. Also, tell them they have to move out of your home on the same day. Hopefully, you have prepared them adequately for all of this. No need to take a car because they not only will not have a car, they are very unlikely to have a driver's license. Go ahead, do it! Tell them "good luck and hit the road." Maybe you can drive them down to the Day Center for the Homeless so they will at least be out of the elements. That, and much more, is what is happening to these kids. It is not only immoral, it is the worst of possible public policy strategies coupled worst of "return on investment" economic outcomes.
Stay tuned Oklahoma. The Mental Health Association in Tulsa is coming and we are going to rub our (yes, OUR, as I am a part of it, also) collective Oklahoma noses in our own crap concerning these poor kids. We can not only do better, if we give these kids half of what most of us give to our transitioning "kids," we might even be able to sleep better at night knowing we have not thrown these young adults to the wolves and without the skills and resources to make it in this increasingly tough economic world. Not only should we be ashamed of ourselves, we are also stupid, because it MAKES NO SENSE! Wake up Oklahoma! Our kids need us!