In Their Own Words: When Institutions Are Called Home


“I remember the first night I slept at the shelter that ended up being my ‘home’ for nine months. I cried. I was lost. I felt abandoned … I woke up to staff, to other residents, hearing about medication, curfews.” — Edgar



“I was transferred from group home to group home … It’s disturbing that workers stood idly by and watched as pimps targeted young girls in the group homes.” — LaQuanna



“The most painful time … being put into quiet rooms to calm down. Just a room locked up with a window. I’d be in restraint chairs, in restraint beds. It made me feel crazy and it made me feel like I wanted to act up more.” — Janirys



“Group homes were scary … No one is really watching what goes on. All they care about is whether you try to run away or not.” — AJ



“They told me I would see a therapist when I was there. I was there for eight months, and I saw the therapist twice.” — Gabrielle


“I spent three months in a psych hospital. It wasn’t a bad place to be. They treated us well, we ate well. But most of us weren’t mentally ill. I’d say 90 percent of us were kids with regular problems just acting like teenagers.” — Emalee



“I wasn’t getting the right treatment and help to deal with all that I had been through … I was in group homes where I felt like a guinea pig. I lost three years of my life being drugged up on meds to see if they controlled any of my feelings or problems.” — Valena



“After I left that second institution, I had to catch up on my reading level because I was so far behind … [and] I asked my social worker if he could buy me a math book … I shouldn’t have had to play catch up.” — Sean



“I was one of the quiet ones, but it was dangerous for other children. I saw staff antagonize two kids to their breaking points. They beat up one and locked another in a room for several hours for ‘acting up.’” — Dylan



“I’ve seen staff instigate fights to where … they’ll let the kids fight with each other, fist fight.” — Shannon



“I was 14 years old and put in a group home … After several months I grew tired of resident staff withholding money, locking up food and constantly inflicting various forms of abuse. I ran away.” — Dameon


Read additional articles in Notes from the Field, the Children’s Rights Newsletter: