This summer, we’ve had the chance to work with a number of AFC Youth as interns. Henry and Brendon have signed on with us to intern as youth bloggers, and we’ll be featuring their work throughout the next few weeks. We’re excited to introduce our youth to the blogosphere and, most importantly, hear their perspectives and read some of their stories. One of the first topics we introduced to our youth revolved around misconceptions directed at youth in care. It’s been incredible to not only hear our youths’ stories, but to see how similar their thoughts are, particularly on this subject. Reading their responses reminded us that youth in care need to know that they are part of a community—that others can relate, have similar experiences, and are probably feeling the same as they are . As young people who grew up with experience in foster care, we thought our youth might have useful insight on the misconceptions surrounding young people in care—and how they have dealt with those misconceptions throughout their lives.
Henry, a 20 year old who has been involved with AFC for ten years, writes about misconceptions around how a young person enters the state’s custody. Henry responded, “One misconception that people may have about youth in foster care today is that they’re up to no good. A lot of people would think that the youth is in foster care because of something they did to get themselves in that situation. What people don’t know is that most of the time the youth’s intake into the state’s custody is NOT their fault. The reasons for entering care vary from neglect at home to trouble in the family which ends in the youth being taken out of their home and placed in foster care.” Henry touches here on many themes that Brendon echoes in his writing, as well.
Brendon, a 14 year old who has been involved at AFC since 2010, writes about misconceptions associated with young people in care that he has noticed. He says, “One of my least favorite misconceptions about youth in foster care is that everyone has to be a bad kid to be in foster care…that’s not the case in the slightest. Many youth in foster care are good kids. I was moved into foster care because my mother felt too overwhelmed with taking care of me…according to many, I’m nice, kind, caring, and…I have never been in a juvenile correctional facility. I really hate the fact that people hear the rumor that someone is going to a foster home and they suddenly think ‘he’s a bad kid.’ That’s not a fair assumption. In fact, it’s a seriously unfair assumption.”
Both Henry and Brendon agree that the general public seems to hold negative connotations with young people who have been removed from their homes and put into state care. At AFC, we believe the youth in our programs have extremely high potential; they are bright, funny, creative, and form incredible bonds with their mentors. We look forward to and envision a day when everyone in their communities see and encourage that potential, too.