Portland, Ore.-based nail tech Courtney Havens is an important figure in children’s lives: She drives foster kids to school, appointments, and visits with their biological parents. One of her nail clients introduced her to the opportunity. “She was talking about her work transporting high-needs kids for the school district, and she mentioned that the Department of Human Services used the same transportation company for kids in foster homes,” Havens says. “She gave me the info to apply and I was working a couple of weeks later, after I passed my background check.”

Havens fits her transport routine around her salon hours and her own children’s routine. “I start my day off by taking my kids to day care and then pick up my transport kids and get them off to school,” she says. After working in the salon, she leaves in the afternoon to take the kids home, then heads back into the salon or goes home herself.

It can be a challenge to transport children who often have a lot of trauma and high needs. “Sometimes they’re upset and unsafe in the car,” Havens says. “I stay calm and redirect them as best as possible until I can get them to their destination.” Despite the challenges, she loves getting to know the children, many of whom she sees on a regular basis when she takes them to scheduled appointments. “Sometimes after a tragic event I am the first person they talk to about it,” she explains. “I hear firsthand stories about foster homes or centers where kids are put in manual holds for behavior. It takes a toll on your heart.” She finds helping the kids fulfilling: “I love building relationships and helping youth out with just a pure heart and a big smile,” she says.

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