When foster youth grow up and become adults, many of them can grow up with mental illnesses or disabilities. The foster care system needs to be reformed! Most foster youth don’t have a stable home or a loving family who care about them. I am proposing a mobile application for foster youth to use that will have resource families (foster parents) who have been screened and have passed the background check required by California. Foster youth can go on this app and see what families are available before being placed in a random home.
Sometimes, when foster homes aren’t available and the child gets removed from their parents, the child gets placed in juvenile hall. Now, that child is on probation with a record. Now, this child feels like they did something wrong when they didn’t do anything wrong. What can we as advocates and stakeholders do to create a more loving environment for foster youth?
Personally, I went to a group home/short term respite therapeutic placement (S.T.R.T.P.) first, and then, foster care. My foster parents are the most loving foster parents I have ever met. They loved me and called me their daughter and never ever excluded me from family activities. They even baptized me in the Catholic Church, and I am still in contact with them to this day. Why can’t we have more loving and empathetic foster parents like them?
I don’t have a huge social support system. I have a few friends that I have met throughout my life navigating the juvenile justice and child welfare system. Of course, I have my three-year-old son who is my biggest supporter. I love my son so much, and I never ever want him to enter the child welfare system. However, when foster youth grow up and become adults, they shouldn’t have to feel alone or grow up even faster or have pressure to get their life together right away because no one is there for them or because they won’t succeed. We should be able to enjoy life, not scramble to get our life together right away.
Another big problem is trying to solve foster youth’s mental health problems with medicine and misdiagnosing children all the time. I was misdiagnosed and given the wrong medicine while I was in foster care. The psychiatrist thought I had depression when I didn’t. I had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I was given the wrong medicine that would make me sleepy all the time, and I always felt like I had no energy. I felt like this for a whole year. It was horrible. Instead of drugging children with medicine, why don’t we do a more therapeutic approach, like therapy or a social support group where foster youth can come with other foster youth and just talk about whatever they want? I feel like that would have been more beneficial for me instead of being zombied out not wanting to do anything.
I also feel like 14-day notices should be abolished. Foster parents shouldn’t be able to give out 14-day notices. It’s not enough to say goodbye to everyone they met, nor is it enough time for the social worker to find the best placement for the foster youth. The social worker is just going to go for a fast placement that may be detrimental to their mental health by settling for the first placement they can find. If there isn’t enough time to find a placement, the child may have to go to juvenile hall, leaving the child on probation with a juvenile record. That shouldn’t be happening.
With 14-day notices, inadequate placements, and juvenile justice involvement, a child can fall through the cracks and be labeled an at-risk youth when they didn’t do anything wrong but just try and be a kid. How can we as stakeholders stop raising another generation of foster youth that are falling through the cracks or are being marginalized? Foster youth are human beings that want to be loved like everyone else. Just because their biological parents couldn’t take care of them doesn’t mean they shouldn’t feel unwanted for the rest of their life. Their biological parents did the best they could. I am a foster care alumni, and I made it and succeeded. I did not become a statistic or fall through the cracks. If I can succeed, so can other foster youth!
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