Each year, The Chronicle of Social Change publishes opinion columns and personal reflections contributed by current or former foster youth. These pieces represent a perspective on the current child welfare system that leaders must heed.
Here are a few of The Chronicle’s favorite “Youth Voices” submissions from this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and you can access our entire Youth Voices library by clicking here.
Author: Amnoni Myers is a former foster youth who recently graduated with a master’s degree in public administration from the National Urban Fellows Program. She is an associate consultant for Forward Change Consulting.
From the column: Opportunities that lead to social capital are critical to a youth’s success, and the philanthropic sector plays a vital role in helping foster youth transition well. The philanthropic sector is in a position to fund innovative programming, advocate for systems and policy shifts, and model developments that contribute to societal well-being.
Author: Sable Locci is a college student in Los Angeles and a former intern for The Chronicle of Social Change.
From the column: Described as “perhaps the most critical job in Los Angeles County” in a listing for the job, DCFS’s new director will be in charge of managing and operating an annual budget of $2.2 billion, manage a staff of nearly 9,000 employees and will be expected to guide DCFS through new, and challenging, reforms.
While the new director will no doubt have to keep in mind the hiring of new and efficient social workers and administrative staff, as well as the recruitment and securing of committed foster parents and homes, Los Angeles County must do more by considering the needs of its clients.
Author: Alexandria Maldonado is founder and president of Foster Education Xchange, president of the junior board of directors of Fostering A Change, and a youth speaker at Opportunity Youth Collaborative for the Children’s Alliance in Los Angeles.
From the column: The courts wanted me to stay with my blood relatives, yet none of them ever took a parenting class, foster parent class, relative caregiver class or even therapy to understand my situation and how I might be feeling. The court assumed that because it was family, I would be in a safe situation, but it wasn’t. I lived in fear for so long, not trusting anyone, thinking someone would hurt me, neglect me or abandon me again. And they all did just that.
Author: Shanice Holmes is an alumni youth advocate for Youth Fostering Change, a program at Juvenile Law Center.
From the column: Last year, I tried reaching out to my attorney to find out my court date and to discuss some challenges I had with my caseworkers. However, he never answered, and attended my hearing without me.
I later found out my court hearing took place four days after my 18th birthday. Because I didn’t show up, my lawyer and new caseworker discharged me from foster care without my permission. I was angry and confused because I already signed a board extension, which allows youth to remain in care until age 21.
Author: Shari Walker is a recent graduate of California State University Northridge and former office manager for The Chronicle of Social Change.
From the column: After leaving high school and entering college, I wanted to be a different person. I did not want people to know I was raised in the foster care system. I felt as if I told anyone, judgment, ridicule and jokes would be made. Although I knew I had entered higher education, I felt that mentioning my past would bring shame on my present endeavors. So for the first year and a half out of foster care, my status remained a secret.
But sometimes opening up about your time in care can help those around you share support and help you achieve your dreams.