Years ago, during one of our Family Dinners, a member of our teen group shared his experience of being treated like a criminal and a "troubled kid". Everyone in the room, young and old, who was in, or had been in foster care, reacted passionately.
Young leaders from vastly different walks through the foster care system unearthed an overlooked yet consequential idea: the people tasked with caring for us “think we're criminals.” Even worse was the public's attitude after they found out they were in foster care.
Whether in the media, in the community, in the classroom or with social workers, youth in foster care feel they are defined by their deficiencies, not by their strengths.
Certainly, if true, this could contribute to a self-fulfilling dynamic of negative behaviors and outcomes.
As the conversation continued, the focus shifted from laughter and comparing stories, to a collective energy around changing this experience for future generations.
Here are the steps we took: