IamA I am a 21 yr old foster kid who has lived in nearly 25 places since entering foster care, many of which were pretty terrible. I've gone on to work on child welfare policy in Congress and share my story around the country. Ask me Anything!
My short bio: I became a foster kid at the age of 14. Due to my older age, it was impossible to find a foster home. Everyone only wanted cute, little babies and was worried about the "trouble" with having teenagers. At the time, policy dictated that I had to change schools every time I changed placements. I found out that a law, called the McKinney Vento Act, would allow me to remain in the high school where I had started. To be protected by the law, however, I had to be homeless. I ended up spending most of my high school years in youth shelters in order to qualify under this act, but I was able to graduate from from the same school where I started.
was warehoused in shelters and group homes until deadlines forced them to move me to another temporary placement. As you can imagine, shelters were very scary. I was subject to a lot of violence and witnessed stuff that was worse than my biological home I was removed from. Group homes were terrible. It was impossible to connect with any adult because they constantly changed shifts, and most of them were pretty burnt out. I wasn't allowed to see friends or have a cell phone because they were scared we would run away. Group homes were like institutions and it was really hard to go through high school without a stable place to live. It felt like being a prisoner for a crime I did not commit. I put all my energy into my education and graduated with good grades. I went on to a notable university where I will be a senior in the fall.
Last summer, I was selected to be out of 15 former foster youth from around the country to intern in Congress. During that time, I published a report on school instability, entitled "From Homeless to the House of Representatives: How a Stable Education Saved a Foster Child", and testified to Members of Congress about my report at a bicameral briefing last summer.
I've been able to use my story to influence policy in Congress, publish reports, and have been featured in various media outlets such as CNN.
I also still work in the the United States Congress.
Also, I'm still in foster care. In my state, we can stay until we graduate from college! But that doesn't mean it's been easy - I've struggled with homelessness and PTSD since starting college, and I've gone through this pretty much on my own.
It's important for me to share my story as many people don't know about foster care, and it can be pretty bad. So I use my story to raise awareness! I hope I can educate you on the Child Welfare system and inspire you to take action to help the 500,000 children currently in need of a forever family.
Me briefing Congress on my published report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEhqKuRwWrw
UPDATE soooo this is my very first post on Reddit and I'm blown away at the interest! Thank you guys SO much for asking about foster care and being so excited to make a difference.
I also wanted to let you all know that I just had an article published, and I would love you to check it out. Feel free to ask questions about it! https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/opinion/among-foster-youth-a-need-for-normalaccy/7374