Teen Diary: Brittany Labrake’s Story

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This month we’re airing a special series as part of our year-long mental health project. This series is called Raise Your Voice: Stories from Teens. Public radio producer David Sommerstein gave recorders to three young women in New York and asked them to document their daily lives. Today, we hear from Brittany laBrake.

For a lot of kids in high school, the opportunity to live in your own apartment is like a dream come true, a long awaited chance for independence and freedom. That’s what Brittany thought. She was living in a foster home for five years; but, a month before her 18th birthday, while she was still in high school, she signed herself out of foster care to live on her own. Brittany moved into an apartment with her boyfriend, Gary. She wanted to live her life independently, but she found out it’s not that easy.

In Birmingham, Gateway operates an Independent Living Program that helps to smooth the transition for young adults who are “aging out” of foster care. Program coordinator Jean Burton tells WBHM’s Tanya Ott that often, the cards are stacked against the kids, especially since a high number of them have a diagnosable mental illness.