Pandemic hits young adults who left foster care without families hard

April 13, 2020

Knoxville News

By Timothy Dennis

Although everyone is feeling vulnerable during this COVID-19 pandemic, young people like me who have transitioned out of foster care without permanent family are even more vulnerable. Even in the best of times, leaving foster care to become an adult all on your own is terrifying. And we often don’t have anybody we can turn to for support.

As an older alumnus of care at 25 years old, I’m proud to say I’m doing pretty well by typical life benchmarks. I work as an emergency medical technician and am planning to go back to college in the fall to advance my career as an EMT.

But even with all that, this crisis has me worried about how I’m going to pay bills, about my physical and mental health and about my future. Across America, personal protective equipment is a scarcity in the health care system right now, which could lead to COVID-19 exposures for health care workers. I fear I’ve already been infected. I am actually on quarantine right now because I have a cough. I don’t know if my employer will pay me for the time they are requiring that I take off. Also, because fewer people are calling for emergency medical services, my work hours are being cut, so my income is dropping.

Timothy Dennis is a resident of Maynardville who works in emergency medical services as well as an advocate for current and former foster youth.

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