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Panhandle Spirit: From foster care to independence

Local young people find help in the transition from foster care to independence through Buckner International.(ABC7 Amarillo)

We often report here about the needs of children in foster care, and how people in the Panhandle meet and exceed those needs. But what happens when those kids age out of the system at 18? Who helps them find their place in the world? A Texas group called Buckner International has been doing that for 140 years.

Courtney Tucker is just one of many who credits Buckner with helping her navigate the road to independence. Five years ago, she was going through a divorce, raising a little girl—life on her own looked bleak.

“When we age out at 18, it’s kinda like we’re forgotten. They’re kinda like, ‘Oh, they’ll make it. They’ll do what they need to do.’ But, a lot of times, that’s not the case. Sometimes we need that extra push or that help,” Tucker said.

Bekah Coggins, Buckner FYI Center Supervisor, says that help usually means basic life skills, like getting an education or finding a career path.

“You may be able to get a job at McDonald’s, but if that’s not where you want to be, let’s find the job where you wanna be,” Coggins said.

Tucker wanted to be in law enforcement, largely because of their impact during a terrible time in her life, when the state took her away from her parents.

“Those guys that came out that day, 12 years ago, have made such an impact on my life. If they were not doing their job, I don’t know where I would be right now,” Tucker said.

She just completed the law enforcement academy, and will soon be a patrol deputy in Potter County, thanks in large part to the investment in her life and future by the team at Buckner.

“It really is the key to the success of the youth and to the program that a relationship is built on a strong foundation,” said Coggins.

That foundation has placed Tucker on a path to success, and made her eternally grateful for the guidance she received in the Buckner Family Pathways program.

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