HAY Center helps foster children move forward after graduation

HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) -- If there's anybody who knows how to adapt in confusing times, it's a young person who grew up in foster care.

"Don't give up. I know it's hard. I've been there," said 18 year old Keyla Hernandez.

Hernandez was put in foster care when she was 15 years old. She was moving around a lot, but still managed to graduate from Westfield High School and start college at Texas State University, where she is now a freshman studying psychology.

But, when campus closed this year, she lost her housing.

"They sent us an email saying we're not returning back to campus and we have to move out. Like, we have to sign up a certain date to come pick our stuff back up," she explained. "I was nervous, apprehensive, uncertain. I don't like to be uncertain of things."

So, Hernandez contacted The HAY Center, a private/public program that works in partnership with Harris County Protective Services for Children and Adults.
Through a transition coach, she was able to get in touch with her former foster parent, who was happy to invite her back, even though she had technically aged out of the system.

"She's been a big part of my life, and she's got me through anything," Hernandez said. "She's very dear to me, so I just gotta be thankful for her."

The HAY Center serves 1200 young people every year.
And with so many plans canceled due to COVID19, many are contacting staff for the first time.

"Our youth don't have a Plan B, so that's where the HAY center steps in. We are their Plan B," said HAY Center director Mary Green. "There are so many people in our community who care about you and really want you to be safe and stable and they are here to help you."

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