More than 100 Houston teens in foster care celebrate high school graduation

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A group of graduating seniors have a lot to celebrate this year.

The HAY Center, a Harris County program that provides services for children and teens in foster care, held a special graduation parade for more than 100 students on Friday.

Cars covered in decorations proudly displayed each student's school pride as they led the parade.

"I'm excited," said one graduate. "I'm glad I did it. I got my diploma so I'm very happy. I'm ready to go to college ... I feel on top."

According to the HAY Center, only about 50% of foster youth graduate high school nationwide and even less graduate from college (3%).

"You have to think how hard it is for a young person who's in foster care even to make it through high school," said a spokesperson with the HAY Center. "They change schools so many times and they really have to advocate for themselves."

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Every year, the HAY Center provides services to more than 1,200 children and teens.

Some students told ABC13 they will be going off to college and others are preparing to head into the workforce.

"My road was a very rough road," said a student. "Suicide ... just abuse itself. No parents really there to help and support me. It was always Child Protective Services and they've actually shown me a lot, and I'm proud of that."
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