From 2003 to 2013, L.A. Youth gave youth in the foster care and probation systems the opportunity to tell their personal stories. This project gave the youth an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and a forum to voice their concerns, while also informing others about the system and the challenges they face. It developed their job and writing skills, improved their self-esteem and helped prepare them for life on their own after they emancipated. Through this project, executive director Donna Myrow was appointed to the state Supreme Court’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care and our stories were read by policy makers and others in the foster care system, providing them with a crucial youth perspective that is often overlooked. We are proud that this project helped influence policy changes that will improve the lives of foster youth. You are welcome to use or reprint any of these stories.

We’ve written about:

The importance of support | Abuse | Mental health | Family | Group homes | Emancipation | Probation | Homelessness| Education | Adoption

The importance of support

Making peace with my past
After being abused, 15-year-old Juliana took her anger out on everybody until she got help.
January 2010

I was out of control
Sara, 18, used to break windows and cause trouble, but now she’s trying to think before she acts.
October 2009

I’m finally in a loving home
Thanks to his foster parents, Raul, 15, feels like part of a family and has a more stable life.
January – February 2008

An unexpected friendship
Brandy, 16, has so much fun hanging out with her mentor, and she helps her with her problems, too.
May – June 2007

They got me through
Teresa, 18, says her foster family gave her a stable home and a chance for a better future.
September 2005

My grandparents are my foster family
Even though I live with my grandparents, I’m still in foster care, and that has made it hard for us to feel like a normal family.
March – April 2005

Bouncing back
After a disappointment in foster care, one teen battled his way back from depression.
September 2004


Abuse

Left in the wrong hands
After years of being abused by the woman who raised her, a girl finally got away.
May – June 2009

Leave us alone
I feared my abusive father would never stop terrorizing my family.
January – February 2009

He doesn’t scare me anymore
Years after her uncle raped her, a teen found the strength to tell.
May – June 2008

I couldn’t take it anymore
After more than a year of being harassed because he is gay, Trayvione, 18, found a way to make it stop.
November – December 2007

An abusive home
It was hard for Deshon, 17, to go back to his house every day, knowing his grandmother might beat him.
September 2007

He ruined our family
A girl and her family went through hell after her mom started dating a new guy.
September 2004


Mental health

Held down by depression
When Karen, 16, became so depressed that she stopped going to school, she realized she needed help.
September 2011

Finally free from my anger
Going to a treatment center for troubled kids helped Tiffany stop fighting and become someone she’s proud of.
October 2010

I no longer feel worthless
After years of being teased, the support Tanya, 14, got at a new school helped her become confident and happy.
September 2009

Leaving my anger behind
My behavior was out of control until an intense therapeutic center helped me become someone I like.
November – December 2008

Prescription for depression
Susan, 15, says when she was prescribed medication for depression it made her feel worse. When she was finally taken off it her life seemed hopeful again.
March – April 2007

My second chance
Walking away from drugs and bad influences in his neighborhood helped Joel, 18, straighten out his life.
October 2006

Taming my anger
Tray, 17, spent years fighting until moving to a group home helped him control his rage.
September 2006

The voices no one else can hear
Getting support and taking medication are helping silence the shouting in a teen’s head.
November – December 2005

Cutting away the pain
Hurting herself was a release from her problems, but it wasn’t solving Karina’s problems.
November – December 2004

Breaking free from my past
A girl was an out-of-control kid until an intense facility helped her change.
May – June 2004


Family

They’re all I have
Foster care split up me and my siblings, but now I’m so happy that we’re together again
May – June 2011

They’re family, not foster kids
When babies can’t live with their parents, my family takes them in and gives them love
November – December 2010

Mom, I misssed you
Living in a group home helped Tanya, 15, with her problems, but it was tough being away from her family.
March – April 2010

Would he love me?
Martha, 13, has always wondered who her father was and if her knows she exists.
March – April 2007

I don’t need ‘em
When Shimia, 17, finally met her relatives after years of wondering about them, it was a disappointment.
January – February 2007

Something’s always missing
Brandy fought with her mom so much that they needed to be apart, but now that she’s in foster care, Brandy, 15, wishes she could see her more often.
May – June 2006

From good girl to wild one
Despite her rebellion, Karina, 15, and her family are now trying to get along.
March – April 2004


Group homes

A family away from home
The girls in 16-year-old Sally’s group home have been there for her like sisters.
November 2009

You call this home?
Brandy, 16, feels like the foster care system cares more about rules than the kids.
October 2007

I made it
D.B., 16, writes how all her mom cared about was drugs so she had to learn to take care of herself.
October 2005


Emancipation

No longer on our own at eighteen
A new law lets youth stay in foster care until age 20 so they’re less likely to become homeless
March – April 2012 

We’re not ready to be on our own

Teens in foster care say they need support from the system as they become adult
January – February 2011

We need more support
Foster youth say the system should do more to make sure they’re ready to be on their own.
March – April 2009

On my own, now what?
Jeff struggled when he left foster care at 18, but with help from others his life is finally stable.
October 2008

Am I ready to be on my own?
Six teens share their fears and hopes for when they leave the foster care system. They also say that the system should better prepare them to be on their own.
November – December 2006


Probation

Anywhere but home
After running away from home and getting locked up, this teen finally got the help she needed.
March – April 2008

From attitude to gratitude
After I got in trouble with the law, I was sent away and it changed my life.
January – February 2005

Illegal expression
Tagging was a teen’s escape from problems at home until she got locked up.
October 2004

Should the camps be closed?
Definitely not, according to the teens who spoke out about life in juvenile detention camps.
May – June 2004


Homelessness

Getting off the streets
Two teens tell us about being homeless and how they got help.
March – April 2011

A world apart
A teen lived on skid row for four years, just blocks away from high rise buildings and prosperity.
January – February 2006

My life on the streets
William, 18, describes what it was like to be a homeless teen for nearly two years.
May – June 2005
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 Education

Reality check
A girl ran away from home and she’d become a rap star, but she found out life isn’t that easy.
November – December 2011

I never gave up
Even though her family wasn’t there for her, 17-year-old Marisa was determined to get her education.
September 2010


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Adoption

I’m glad she adopted me
Charles, 18, didn’t always get why his mom pushed to do good in school, but now he’s grateful.
October 2011