Claudia Asprer has dedicated her career and life to foster children and adolescent services. She is the founder of Movin On Up, a non-profit organization that helps foster youth aging out of foster care find the resources they need to become successful. Over the past fifteen years, Claudia and her husband, Roy Asprer, have personally fostered over ninety children in addition to their own four.
Born and raised in El Salvador, Claudia came to the United States when she was fourteen years old. When she first arrived, Claudia did not speak English and had difficulty assimilating to a new culture, family and friends. However, she worked hard to continue her education and attended Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys, CA while living with a paternal uncle and his family. After two years, she moved to San Francisco to live closer to her paternal grandparents and finished her last two years of high school at Balboa High. After graduating high school, Claudia attended Skyline College to study science, then transferred to UC Davis, where she graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology.
Although Claudia intended on attending medical school and becoming a physician like her mother in El Salvador, as soon as she graduated she found a job at the County of Marin Health and Human Services Public Health Department as a Teen Specialist and Health Educator. Claudia co-founded Teen Tuesday Clinic, thus continuing her career working with youth. The free program gives teens a safe and confidential space to get pregnancy tests, STI tests, birth control, condoms, counseling, education and support. Claudia also coordinated the nationally acclaimed pregnancy prevention program, Baby Think It Over, for Marin youth. Claudia’s dedication, passion and understanding for adolescents was magnificent, and she earned the nickname “The Teen Queen” amongst her coworkers.
In 1999, while working at the Teen Tuesday Clinic, Claudia met a young, fourteen-year-old Latina foster girl. Marjorie Delgadillo started coming to the clinic often and met with Claudia weekly for several months. One day, Marjorie asked Claudia to become her foster mother. Claudia, just 26 years old at the time, felt shocked. She had grown fond of Marjorie, respected her, recognized her resilience and wanted her to have a better future, but worried that she and her new husband, Roy, were too young to start parenting. She went home to discuss the idea with Roy, who asked to meet Marjorie and go over her goals, dreams and house rules. From the start, Roy and Claudia explained to Marjorie that if she came to live with them, school would always be the priority, and she would be expected to go on to higher education. After Roy and Claudia received licenses from the state, Marjorie came to live with them and became their first daughter. Marjorie continued on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in humanities from Dominican University.
Since that first experience with Marjorie more than fifteen years ago, Claudia and Roy have taken in and fostered more than ninety children. Many of them did not stay long or were returned to their biological families, but twelve of the children stayed with Claudia and Roy, becoming their “forever children.” Of those twelve, all are either currently in college or have graduated. During her experience with foster children, Claudia noticed that when many youth left the foster system at age eighteen, they did not have the skills or preparation to live on their own and tackle the responsibilities of school and work. She realized the trends for educational achievement among foster youth were extremely low. According to the Casey Foundation, only three percent of foster youth attend college. Claudia wanted to change the odds for foster youth living in Marin County. In 2010, she founded Movin On Up, a nonprofit that helps foster children make the leap from high school to higher education. The organization offers housing to homeless or at-risk foster youth, and provides basic needs to ensure the youth can focus in school and complete their education. Claudia’s love and passion for foster youth is the driving force for this project, which has given so many young people hope for their future.
Presently, Claudia and Roy have three girls at the Movin On Up house, are fostering four teenage girls, and have four biological children. They work diligently to make certain all their children achieve their individual goals.