Former Arizona foster kid utilizes nonprofit to attend college, succeed outside of system

Mar 10, 2022, 4:35 AM | Updated: 6:29 am
Tysheria Harrell (Courtesy Photos)...
Tysheria Harrell (Courtesy Photos)
(Courtesy Photos)

PHOENIX — After aging out of the Arizona foster care system at 18, Valley resident Tysheria Harrell turned to a local nonprofit to receive the resources she needed in order to succeed as an adult.

There are currently 14,000 foster kids in the state, and Arizona’s Children Association’s young adult services program helps those who age out of the system with life skills, transitional independent living programs and services for young parents.

Harrell said the program and the people who work for it provided her with a support system throughout her transition from foster care to college and into motherhood.

“They help us a lot and they might not feel like it, but they really are helpful to us, especially because we came from people who didn’t really want to teach us living in group homes,” she said. “So having them help us, it’s like they’re our mothers and fathers.

“They helped me with my FAFSA, they helped me budget when I was living in a group home, and just helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Harrell said.

She secured the funding and began her journey to becoming a registered nurse, but that path was put on hold when she got pregnant with her son.

The nonprofit’s program was there to assist her with motherhood as well.

“When I moved out and got pregnant, they helped me learn a lot of things about parenting,” she said. “My worker through Arizona Children’s (Association) was very helpful and very knowledgeable on parenting and how to discipline them.”

She has now returned to college and is a certified nursing assistant, working toward getting her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Harrell hopes to eventually open her own foster home to help kids like herself.

“I want to start off with kids ages 5 to 10, and then open more group homes for older kids, teen moms and teen parents in general,” she said.

Harrell added there aren’t many options for teen parents in foster care to live together, so she wants to be able to offer that option.

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Former Arizona foster kid utilizes nonprofit to attend college, succeed outside of system