The interworkings of social services and esp. that of foster care are complex and take much to understand. On Their Own is written at a basic level so the general public can understand what is going on. I have been a mentor and advocate for foster children for a year now and found the book helpful and inspiring. The back part of the book has detailed information on what can be done to help this problem. Some of the kids I mentor will soon be turning 18 and this has allowed me some insight on what to do.
The book is amazing for someone who doesn't understand the foster care system. Even though I work with foster kids and understand some of the interworkings, it allowed me better understanding. I had my mom read the book as well. The forward by Jimmy Carter is amazing as well. Good read if you enjoy learning about social issues.
I hope that you take time out to read this book. It focuses on the lives of youth who are in foster care and the challenges that we face when we emancipate from the foster care system. This book is great for people who work in the social services field, who work directly with foster youth, as well as the foster youth themselves. I am in it as well, please read my story... pg. 109
The collection of stories here runs the gamut from terribly sad to uplifting. But, all in all, it is a really tough road for those aging out of the system. If you are involved in foster care, or advocacy for children in need of assistance, this is an eye-opening book, particularly for those not schooled in social services, or working in that field.
What happens when Social Services fail you? And even though you've turned eighteen, or so it says on your birth certificate, you're still not ready for adulthood? Children in foster care face this dilemma daily, for as soon as they're 18, they're dumped from wherever it is that was paying for them to stay. The Williams brothers, three small boys, grew up tough, and in their different ways, Jermaine, Lamar and Jeffrey all tried to cope with a foster system that alternately coddled them and abused them. I was moved to tears by reading the account of Jermaine's last days on earth, simply written by ace reporter Martha Shirk. Happily, the other members of Jermaine's family are living still. Then there's Giselle, a promising young girl who unfortunately becomes prey to anorexia. All too soon, adulthood is upon her, while she's still struggling with a common problem of teenage girls. Liberals worry about these issues, while those of a more conservative bent argue that 18 is certainly old enough to expect a young man or woman to get out on his own and stop depending on charity or handouts. But Shirk and her co-author Stabgler admit there are no easy answers.
Anyone can read this book and identify with the ideas behind it, for in one way or another we are all affected by the problems of aging and by being forced by old Father Time into a realm we are really not prepared for. For these young people, it was turning 18. For some of us, it might be turning thirty. And for baby boomers, it will be the call of the retirement trumpet when, once so active, people born in the 1940s and 1950s will be put on the shelf in today's changing world, without sufficient preparation on how to live in that place of old age. Jimmy Carter contirbutes an elegant foreword that shows he has really thought about the problems of youth. That's the saddest story of all.
Luiz is 18, sitting on his bed in an SRO. He's hungry, and he has $20. All he eats is take-out, because he doesn't know how to make his own dinner. He has no idea how to buy groceries or cook pasta. He has to start paying rent for his room in two weeks and has no job. He doesn't know how to ask for one, and isn't sure what a person does while they're working. How will he get up on time for work even if he does have a job? He thinks he needs an alarm clock, but has no idea where a person goes to buy one. He's down to his last set of clean undies, and has no idea how to do laundry.
Kids in foster care often lack basic skills. When you go from one foster home to another, you never stay long enough to learn. If each foster home is in a different neighborhood, you end up switching schools constantly. You'll be uprooted every few months, never learning anything in school or at home.
If you choose to take in foster children, you have to accept that they can be angry and hostile and moody. They may hate you with a vengeance and not want to take orders from you. But your primary goal should be to teach them how to live. You need to take them to the supermarket and teach them how to buy pasta, bread, and meat. You need to show them how to cook, clean the pots, and buy food within a budget. You must teach them how to launder their clothes, and since not all buildings have washing machines, you teach them to use the laundromat.
I taught scores of boys and girls who were raised by foster parents or by relatives. They couldn't take care of themselves, and life was impossible for them once they turned 18 and were out on their own. Some would go to college and flunk out, because with nobody there to tell them when to get up, they were unable to stick to a schedule.
I'm not going to get into all the things that Judge Judy wrote in her book, but the prognosis isn't good. The foster care system has been in trouble for decades and it doesn't look any better. Unless something is done, the future looks rather bleak.