Taren Fales, calling on her a natural competitive instinct, is determined not to be a foster care outcomes statistic. Sadly, those statistics show that by 20 a young lady like Taren might have a criminal record or be pregnant. In Ms. Fales case, she bucks the statistics. She is a college student who holds a job, manages her own money and looks for spare time to take a run, swim, or create a scrap book. In middle and high school it was sports that defined Taren.

She was awarded with Athlete of the Week, All Conference Honorable Mention, All Conference Academic Excellence, and Best Female Athlete. Her natural talent made put her in line to be team captain of multiple sports. In addition to sports, Taren was a National Honors Society recipient and she was voted onto Student Council.

As Taren states, “Even in middle school, I prepared and had my mind set on going to college right after high school. I spent my senior year applying for colleges and a countless amount of scholarships. Nothing was going to stop me from furthering my education.” But there were many formidable challenges along the way. Fales was placed into foster care at age nine.

Her mother was not in the picture, when her father was arrested. Taren was picked up and brought to a foster home, which proved to be a short term placement. Her second home was longer, at nine years total. However, Taren and her foster mother had a rocky relationship during Senior year of high school so Taren moved out.

Near the end of the school year Taren learned that her foster mother had breast cancer. “ I realized right then, she was a very important person in my life. We got back in touch, and I moved back. That is my home, and always will be.” But perhaps the most challenging part of being in foster care for Taren has been watching the negative effects on her biological sister who has unfortunately contributed to the foster care outcomes statistics.

As for why it is important for foster youth to have an opportunity to improve foster care, Ms. Fales finds, “It can allow hope for one. We are the voices. The stories are real, and we… are not the only ones who have them. Connecting with someone who has shared similar to what you have opens up for a relationship, and may lead to trust.” And trust is something all teammates, whether in sports, family, or work need to share in order to win and succeed.

Team(s) or Cohort(s)
2012 Outstanding Young Leaders