People often ask me why I work with foster youth. It takes incredible restraint for me not to respond “Why don’t you?”.
Foster youth are the most innocent of victims: children, failed by their parents, failed by the system, failed by society, too young to fend
for themselves, to fight for themselves. These “throw-away” kids are our kids, our responsibility. And we are failing them. Over and over again.
There are supports in place to protect children from the horrors of abuse and neglect. That’s where the system comes into play. They system takes kids from their homes, their families and drops them off with strangers. The system enrolls kids in failing and dangerous schools. The system takes these kids from their new “homes” and drops them off with new strangers. The system enrolls them in more failing schools. The system throws the kids out at age 18 with no money, no education, no support, no place to live, nothing to count on. Sometimes, the system transfers the kids to another system, prison.
Children need to be protected. But “protection” doesn’t end once they are removed from their violent situations. Throwing them into a failed system isn’t protection. In many ways, it’s a betrayal.
Enough. It’s unaceptable. It’s criminal. Something has to be done. Action needs to be taken. Not research. Not data. Not studies. Real, tangible, effective action. And it needs to happen NOW! Someone needs to take responsibility for these innocents and find a way to give them a chance at a real, happy, fulfilling life. Why don’t you?
I’ve worked with foster youth for over 10 years. About four years ago, I had had enough. I couldn’t stand watching kid after kid after kid dream of a better life, and then be beat down by a system that is supposed to protect them. Something had to change.
The Academy Project is one attempt at doing just that.