Often, helping professionals in the lives of foster care youth struggle to understand the magnitude of losing a child or teen in the foster care system has experienced. Abuse and neglect, loss of innocence, trauma, separation from parents, loss of security, and multiple placements are all factors affecting the wellness of children placed in the foster care system.
These heavy experiences not only impact children and teens in our foster care population short term, but they are also far reaching. The long term impacts of these experiences of foster care youth are evidenced by the staggering statistics of foster care alumni such as homelessness, prison, unemployment, mental health concerns, and lack of education.
In order to effectively serve this underserved population, it’s time for us to acknowledge how much we really don’t know about foster care youth in the United States today. It’s time to create more conversation about the needs of children and teens in foster care placement and the realities of their experiences. It’s time we meet them where they’re at in their grief.
Foster care alumni abandoned by the educational system often become the inmates at youth detention centers and adult prisons across the country. They are the experts on what needs to change in order to create more equitable outcomes and opportunities for vulnerable populations. These orphaned inmates are the ones who could drive the creation of new methodologies, curriculum and policies to decrease risks while increasing protective factors. – Foster Care Alum Veola Green
Below is the first video in our series highlighting best practices for teachers and other key players impacting the lives of grieving foster care youth today. In this video, I interview Evangelina Reina, LCSW, Assistant Regional Administrator for DCFS – Los Angeles and Adjunct Assistant Professor for The University of Southern California.
Reina offers her insight into best practices when working with children and teens in foster care placement as well as her expertise on what sets foster care youth apart from youth impacted by the other experiences of death, divorce, parental incarceration, and parental deployment.