When Children’s Rights launched Fostering the Future last May to highlight National Foster Care Month, we hoped the voices of those impacted by child welfare would resonate with readers. As it turned out, the response to the public awareness campaign exceeded our expectations.
“The stories I have read so far brought me to tears,” one woman wrote to CR.
“The young men and women are amazing,” another wrote. “What an eye opener for those of us not involved in the system.”
Heartening feedback like this has compelled CR to make the campaign an annual endeavor. Fostering the Future 2014 will go live on May 1st and new first-person accounts will follow each day of the month. The blogs can be found at www.fosteringthefuture.com, and through Children’s Rights’ Facebook and Twitter pages.
This year’s writers, who hail from across the United States, provide glimpses into life in care, and the systemic problems that Children’s Rights strives to make better through our comprehensive reform work. They call for states to make concrete fixes like recruiting more loving foster families, providing mentors for youth, giving social workers more time for each case, and better preparing kids to age out and be on their own.
Kaylyn described being shunted between multiple foster homes: “I was 16 when I was placed in foster care, and I went through four different placements in as many months. I felt like my life was in complete chaos. Not knowing what might happen to me was terrifying.”
Sixto detailed a young life filled with abuse and neglect: “Imagine a childhood like mine. One in which you cannot touch the refrigerator; you sleep in a filthy room and are treated like a servant in a home where the family wants you only for the money you bring in. I was screamed at, beaten with a belt, and with fists. I have been choked, slapped and starved.”
Shandreka wrote about trying to make it on her own after being involved in the system: “I was like a newborn baby again, but this time I was responsible for my well-being — nobody was there to help me or check in on me … I lived from couch to couch.”
Others describe being prescribed powerful psychotropic medications, split from brothers and sisters and made to live in institutions. But bloggers also write about the silver linings of foster care — and the people who have helped them along the way.
“My foster mother, Connie, took the time to teach my foster brothers and me valuable things like cooking, writing and how to find employment,” Vannak wrote. “I have to admit, she taught me how to be a man. Without the stability of that home I don’t know where I would be today.”
We hope that you will take the time to read these highly personal accounts, share them with friends and family, and help us raise awareness about what life can be like for the 640,000 kids who spend time in state care each year.
Read additional articles in Notes from the Field, the Children’s Rights Newsletter: