Let’s Make Change
I was 11 when parents split up and I had to live with my mother. She was very abusive and really bad with alcohol. I tried to run away many times to my friends or my dad but she would always make me come back, usually through blackmail. I wanted to tell the police, my teachers, and counselors but my mother was always with me when I saw them so I was too afraid to.
When I was almost 17, I was finally taken from my mother after she threw a glass at me and it shattered on my arm and I had to go to the hospital. That was the last time we were together and I was placed in care the next day along with my two other brothers.
In care we stayed with our eldest brother for a few days while CPS were deciding what to do with us. I remember getting really upset when they wanted my little brother Austin to live separately from Nathan (my twin) and I. Somehow they let us stay permanently with my older brother even though he was under the guardian age.
I was glad to be in care, especially with all my brothers. I have always been home schooled so moving around wasn’t a big deal for me; I even got to see my dad more often since my mother never let me see him before.
After high school I went to Santa Barbara City College, where foster youth had a very small population. I found a club called Guardian Scholars where we had to do our own outreach into the community to get support.
Ever since then I have been really involved with helping foster youth programs and organizations such as California Youth Connection (CYC). In CYC I met two youth from the Sonoma chapter who wanted to create Project Blue, a type of support and foster youth awareness movement for issues going on in the system.
We’re always hearing about how youth get taken advantage of, mistreated, and loose their way. We want foster youth to come to us with stories of their experiences with the unjust system so we can share them. We also wanted to devote a day to foster youth around the nation for having to deal with the foster care system.
We agree that the system should not be more traumatic than family separation and, unfortunately, it often is.
San Francisco is so crowded and expensive that foster youth are rarely if ever able to stay in the city. Foster parent numbers have declined to less than half of what they used to be, and this is because of how hard it is to live in the city off the income of being a foster parent. Also, we believe the general public aren’t aware of all the youth that get tossed around in the system, so the need for foster parents doesn’t seem to be presented as an urgent matter.
Foster Care has so many hands with specific jobs that share a part in a foster youth’s experience that when one’s not accounted for it does seem like a big deal, but to the one youth that’s missing something (guidance, support, counseling, school, social workers, parents, foster parents, attorneys, etc.) there will be problems.
I would like the general public to know more about foster care…how it works, what resources are in their community that help, how to get involved, where to volunteer, where to donate, and problems that arise in the system and who is working to fix them.