Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels: ‘A lot of young people come out…worse off than when they went in.’
(New York, NY) – On May 1, in honor of National Foster Care Month, national advocacy organization Children’s Rights will launch Fostering the Future, a public awareness campaign that will give first-hand accounts of being a child in state care.
More than 650,000 children spend time in U.S. child welfare systems every year. The campaign’s website,www.fosteringthefuture.com, will feature a fresh blog post each day from someone who directly experienced child welfare. The bloggers represent more than a dozen states, covering every region in the U.S.
“Foster care has an indelible impact on the hundreds of thousands of young people who experience it annually, and far too often child welfare systems fail to keep them safe or address their needs,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights. “While several Fostering the Future contributors found child welfare to be a saving grace, others were abused, neglected, moved from home to home or institutionalized. Whether good or bad, their experiences will humanize foster care for many.”
Children’s Rights asked former foster youth to touch upon the theme of the campaign: “How did going through foster care affect your life? Based on your experience, do you think foster care should change?”
The responses were compelling. While one young man said, “foster care was good for me,” others felt differently:
• “Being abused wasn’t the worst of it,” writes Children’s Rights engagement media associate Tomas Rios in the inaugural blog post. “The countless nights I went to sleep hungry and hoping to never wake up again are what I recall most vividly.”
• “I was 15 and a virgin and he was 45 and had no remorse,” wrote Steffanie, who said she was raped daily for 8 months by her foster father.
• “A 13-year-old child has no reason to be locked up in a mental hospital where they can hear screaming adults and fights day in and day out. Yet, there I was, lying awake at night too afraid to sleep,” shared AJ, a young woman who said she was abused, institutionalized and medicated during more than 15 years in foster care.
• “A lot of young people come out of the system worse off than when they went in,” wrote Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, a founding member of the iconic rap group Run-DMC and a Children’s Rights board member. DMC was adopted from foster care as an infant, and now advocates on behalf of foster youth nationwide.
The blog posts provide glimpses into the lives of people who have lived within a system that has produced staggering statistics. At least 23 states do not meet the federal standard for keeping kids safe from abuse and neglect when they are in foster care. About 104,000 foster kids are available for adoption throughout the U.S., and more than 16,000 children have been waiting for five or more years to be adopted. And, at any given time, about 23,000 foster kids live in group homes and about 34,000 live in institutions. Some states place children as young as infants in shelters.
The blogs and accompanying photos, submitted by former foster youth, will be featured on the campaign website and promoted through the Children’s Rights Facebook page, Twitter account (@childrensrights) and main website (www.childrensrights.org).
Children’s Rights is the only organization in the U.S. dedicated solely to transforming failing child welfare systems through legal advocacy. Since 1995, the non-profit has secured court orders to demand top-to-bottom reforms of more than a dozen child welfare systems throughout the country, defending the civil rights of foster children, fixing ailing child welfare systems and helping thousands of children reunite with their families of join loving adoptive homes.