Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Foster Youth Emancipation

I probably should tell her the truth. I mean, the truth is always best right?

In the car this morning...

"I can't live there anymore. My social worker says that the only place she can move me it out to [VERY Small Town] and I know for a fact that is not true. You are open. My frind H---'s foster parents have room for another girl. There is a family in The City who is still taking girls, and I could move to the shelter again."

"But you would have to move out of the shelter on your 18th birthday."

"I have to move out on my 18th birthday anyway!"

"No you don't. You can stay. If you are in this program you can stay as long as you need to finish high school."

"There is no way I am going to do that. I'll get a GED. I'll work all summer. There is no way in hell I am going to go to high school when I am 18. ..."

So I am feeling pretty sad. Here is the bright, capable girl shooting herself in the foot. She is going to turn 18 in the summer. She is a junior now and after this school year, she will have to take senior English, Government, and Economics (only 1 semester) in order to graduate. She has not been making progress on her on-line classes. She is so determined to leave.

There is a lot said about how little we do for kids emancipating from foster care. There are horrible statistics on how many of them are homeless, don't finish high school, don't go to college, can't support themselves. The picture given is invariably that of a cold-hearted system throwing good kids out on the street.

That happens and it happens far too often.

But there are a lot of Miss E's out there too. People whose ability to attach, or even get along with others who are offered more and walk away.

I want to shake her. I want to tell her she is in the best foster care in the freaking country. She has more money and support available to her for college than most kids growing up in birth families. How many young people are told by their parents, "If you work with us, we will get you through college without debt?"

But this post wasn't supposed to be about that.

It is merely about the fact that Miss E has moved from asking me if I have a kid to reporting that she knows I am open. She says it with the attitude that of course she could move in with me, if her social worker weren't being such a jerk.

And what do I do? I change the subject. I tell her about the puppy and try to get her to draw the conclusion that she would be just as miserable at my house as she is where she is. She does not hear me though.

Part of me thinks I should tell her, "Right now, you and I have a good relationship. We are friends. This is good. If you move into my house you will HATE the puppy and Brian will drive you nuts. You will complain to me about Brian like you complain to me about everyone else in your life, only I won't be able to just listen sympathetically. No one is going to be happy. It is better if you stay where you are."

But no matter how carefully I explain, she will only hear one thing, "You don't want me. Nobody does."

Next on Miss E


  1. Ouch. That stuff just kills me. I wish I could fix them, I wish I could have kept them from being hurt.

  2. Sigh. I wish I had some brilliant piece of wisdom or could sprinkle some fairy dust that would help her see things more clearly, to see beyond the immediate. How sad to see her make these choices.

  3. My state now allows kids who leave at 18 to return later, up to age 21, I think. And they are coming back, as they find it too hard to make it on their own. Unfortunately, our system is designed for kids up to 18 (some programs aren't licensed to have kids over 18 or 19 at the most) so we have had trouble finding appropriate services for them. But, things are changing.

    Would I circle of care help this girl? What I mean is, if she could have sort of a main residence at her current foster home, but be allowed to stay at your home occasionally, or the shelter, or wherever else she can, until she graduates?

    I think you should have told her what you were thinking. You could say, "I am afraid you are going to hear this as me saying I don't want you, but I'm really saying this because I DO want to stay connected to you."


Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.