Writers Describe Ups and Downs of Life in State Care for Children’s Rights’ 4th Annual Fostering the Future Campaign
(New York, N.Y.) – Failed adoptions, physical abuse, mental illness and even a forced marriage led to foster care for a group of young people who are writing about their experiences this May, National Foster Care Month. Advocacy organization Children’s Rights will bring these stories to life for its 4th annual Fostering the Future campaign, a public awareness effort that sheds light on the realities of life in state care.
The first-person accounts—by bloggers hailing from every region in the United States—will be published daily throughout May, exposing a system that fails children in its care as often as it saves them. More than 650,000 children spend time in U.S. foster care every year. About 12,000 of the nearly 108,000 kids awaiting adoption have been in state care for five years or longer. At any given time, about 23,000 kids live in group homes and more than 32,000 live in institutions. And 23 states fail to meet the federal standard for keeping kids safe from abuse and neglect in care.
Last year our writers’ poignant stories received 1.25 million views on social media. This year, with bloggers like comedian Monroe Martin, artist Ronald Draper and model MelissaRoshan (MelRo) contributing their stories and urging others to #FosterTruth, Children’s Rights expects to double that number—thereby helping to grow and coalesce a movement that is ready, willing and able to impact change.
“It is incredibly meaningful to take part in this campaign,” said comedian Monroe Martin (“Last Comic Standing,” “Master of None”), who went into foster care at age 7 and lived in 14 different homes in 15 years. While Martin notes that “In many ways foster care saved me,” he adds, “I’ve seen firsthand just how much needs to be fixed, and I remember what it’s like to feel voiceless. It’s an honor to join forces with Children’s Rights and give a platform to young people who deserve it most.”
In his blog, to be unveiled on May 3, Martin writes, “I want to see a lot of change happen in the system. I want to see less medicine in these kids. I want to see more efforts being made to reunite families. And if they’re unable to reunite, the kids should be placed with someone who really cares about them.”
His words are underscored by the myriad experiences of other Fostering the Future bloggers. While some credit their foster parents for saving them (“They made me feel safe, special and loved for the first time in my life, and they gave me a reason to want to live,” writes Catiria), others had mixed reviews:
•“I lived in 12 placements while in foster care, including six foster homes, two shelters, one residential treatment facility, one transitional living facility, [and] one independent living program … Most of the time I had foster parents that didn’t care about how I felt,” writes Kaysie.
•“I lived in approximately 25 foster care placements. Some homes weren’t supportive. Some were even abusive,” writes Demetrius.
•“In my third foster care placement I was with a family with three biological children. All of the children had their own rooms upstairs and I lived in the basement,” writes Crys.
•“Brothers and sisters should be your first and oldest friends but mine are hardly more than strangers, and frankly, it’s not fair,” writes Kevin, who was separated from his siblings.
“While every individual is unique, these stories share common threads—and far too many of them expose how children are being failed, day in and day out, in foster care,” said Sandy Santana, executive director of Children’s Rights. “By bringing the truth to light and advocating together, we can reform foster care systems and attract more great foster parents who make a positive and indelible impact on kids.”
Throughout May, the blogs and accompanying photos will be featured on the campaign page www.fosteringthefuture.com and promoted through Children’s Rights’ Facebook page and Twitter and Instagram accounts (@childrensrights).