Foster Culture

November 22, 2007

A personal story…

Filed under: foster parents,foster teens,Foster youth,life,me,personal — fosterculture @ 4:27 am

Since I never was able to really connect with a family while in foster care, the family structure/environment is uncomfortable for me. Which makes the whole holiday time of year a little difficult for me.

So for Thanksgiving day, instead of putting myself through the torture of trying to fit in and play the holiday family day, I’m going to a group home I work at sometimes for teenage girls in foster care that are pregnant or already have children. One girl I know that lives there is 16 and pregnant with her second child and is due December 2nd. She has no where to go for the holiday, so I’m going to her. Yes, a few people have said that that is very thoughtful and kind of me, but in reality, it is not that altruistic. Being in that setting, with other people that have no where else to go, that is my comfort zone. I know I will not feel out of place or intrusive the entire time I am there. Places like that is where I spent all my holidays growing up and they were rarely with the same people for more that one or two years in a row.

I have children now and am happy to spend the holidays with them, but when it comes time to visit  the family they have on their dad’s side, I am unable to participate. Sometimes I feel bad about it, but then I remember, that’s just me.

One of my favorite books is titled Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons. It is about a girl that goes to live in a foster home and so she renames herself Ellen Foster. I like that.


November 7, 2007

Kansas State Student Database

It is not uncommon for children and teens in foster care to move placements several times in one year, which also means new schools. Often times the previous school will take longer than necessary to send transcripts to the current school thereby delaying the students enrollment and/or placement in appropriate classes and educational support.

For example, I know a young man that required a full day of self contained classes and was developmentally delayed. The school had not yet received the students IEP and transcripts and so this young man was placed in all regular classes with the rest of the student population. As if moving to a new foster home wasn’t stressful enough, having to go through several school days without proper support made the transition a traumatic experience.

A personal example: I lived in a residential treatment center and went to the local public school. It was determined that I was ready to live in a transitional living group home in a new school district. In the RTC, one of my school books turned up missing (not unusual in these types of placements) and that school refused to release my transcripts to the new school until someone had paid for the book. Well after running away several more times and changing to two more school before the end of the school year, my transcripts still did not follow me. Several years later, when I was on my own, I had to prove to the college I was enrolling in that I had taken a college level algebra course in high school and had no way to do this, because alas, my transcripts were still being held hostage. And of course, I did not have the money to pay for that one book.

So finally, one state was brave enough to try something new, to identify a problem and come up with a solution, something that I find amazing seeing as how it is part of the whole, ya know, “system”.

The state of Kansas created a student database, with a focus on foster youth, that school will be able to access the most current up-to-date records for the youth no matter how often they move or where they move in the state.
The organization I work for will be going to the state capital soon talk to legislatures about this awesome database and how much it could help foster youth.

Click here if yo’dlike to read more about the Kansas student database.

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