May 19, 2017

How Teachers Can Advocate for Their Students in Foster Care

By summers end, I am always eagerly awaiting another school year. As a teacher, I’ve always had a few students each year with behavioral issues. No big deal, it’s just the nature of the job. However, I had no idea what this school year had in store for me. But because of the lessons I was taught in my classroom this year, I have grown to be a better teacher and advocate for foster children.

As a board member of the Ticket to Dream Foundation, I have met many foster youth, which has given me a clearer insight to the struggles and triumphs that foster youth can face. Even further, spending six hours a day, nine months a year with a foster child in my classroom has provided even more understanding of the pain, emotions, and trauma that is placed on these young lives. I look at these students and think “it is not fair. Why do they have to suffer like this at such a young age?” They go through situations that most of us will never have to endure. As a caregiver, I want to scoop these children up and take them away from all of it. Even if we could scoop them away, they would still have the scars of their childhood.
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May 7, 2017

Abuse and Neglect Impacts Foster Children’s Development

Most people know how they would respond to a dangerous encounter such as meeting a bear in the woods. Our instincts would kick in and our adrenaline would be elevated, creating a fight or flight response to give our muscles and heart a performance advantage over our brains. This response is useful, particularly if there is a bear chasing you but now imagine what our bodies would do if they ran into this crisis on a daily basis? How children would be affected if their childhood was filled with crisis and danger. How their physical and mental health as adults would fare with the persistent elevation of stress hormones.

As a pediatrician and foster care advocate I have learned a great deal about how the barriers to providing good outcomes for children and youth in foster care are truly rooted in a much deeper problem. Recognizing how abuse and neglect impacts children is just the beginning of understanding how the traumatic childhood events or ACES that foster children experience can have long term consequences that may surprise people.
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April 30, 2017

I am a former foster youth

My name is Latrice and I am a former foster youth. I was in foster care system from birth due to my biological parent’s substance abuse until I aged out of foster care at 18. Life did not come without challenges, but I have continued to persevere. Some of us in foster care may have been moved from home to home and not know from day to day if you were going to return to the same home. While others like me, stayed in only a couple foster homes. At the early age of 9 years old I lost my first foster mom, Mama Alice to sickle cell anemia. When I was moved to my second foster home, I remember asking my new foster mom, whom I called Mama Bear, if she was going to be my foster mom for a while like Mama Alice was. She reassured me that she would always be there and love and care for me. She reassured me of this many times over the years, especially on my rough days, when I would get down on myself or let something someone said get to me. I can recall many days letting other kids or people hurt my feelings and my mom would say the old saying of sticks and stones may break my bones but words may never hurt me. Mama Bear had a spin on that I carry with me to this day “You are in control of your life and feelings and only you can let someone hurt you if you allow them to, you know what and who you are.
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