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Jaclyn Jerse

OCCT 655
Book Review Questions

How is the person (population) in this book oppressed or marginalized?

On Their Own describes a marginalized population through ten descriptive narratives of
foster children aging out of the system. Each story exhibits the hardships that these young adults
faced economically and socially, describing the barriers which prevented achievement for the
future. Several characters share common themes involving a life filled with instability due to the
continuous displacement from one residence to another. Young adults leaving the foster care
system at age eighteen demonstrate a need to participate in a transitional program to prevent
failure and achieve independence. Each individual story replicates a life filled with inconsistent
guidance, unreliable guardians, and an existence empowered by uncertainties. When provided an
opportunity for success, the likelihood of achievement is minimal due to the lack maturity and
unobtainable support system to aid in adulthood. These individuals are not provided the same
experiences and opportunities that are often presented to children raised by parents. They are not
provided the same opportunity to “live and learn” throughout life due to the severe consequences
that may arise if the correct decision is not made initially. Foster children suffer from emotional
deprivation expressing the need for love through feelings of loneliness, mistrust, and neglect.

Reflecting on the person/population in the book; describe the impact that
oppression or marginalization has on the concepts of occupation (participation,
performance, engagement, balance, repertoire, etc.).

Several opportunities are provided by parents to the typical child raised in the care of
guardians. Involved parents provide a child with discipline, responsibility, assistance, advice,
support, and a role model to follow and shape their life to become self-sufficient and successful.
Individuals turning eighteen within the foster care system demonstrate a different milestone in
comparison to children supported by family. Their lives have been impacted tremendously
disrupting the concepts of occupation due to the frequent readjustments in which they had to
adapt to. Foster children are not provided the guidance with the support that is considered a norm
within society today. Psychosocial issues such as abuse, neglect, and mistrust forever haunt their
minds, impacting participation in academics, relationships, and the ability to sustain a job.
Accomplishments such as graduating high school are not shared amongst family members and
friends due to the temporary foster family arrangements and the constant change in residency.
They are deprived of a stable support system lacking positive encouragement, consistent
direction with personal accountability, establishing relationships, and emerging in the role of
responsibility. These individuals are suppressed financially and emotionally living a life
controlled by a system of strangers that delegate personal decisions without consent of the child.
They walk into a society full of unknowns without certainty they will succeed and no one to
approach when problems arise.
Foster children lives have been compressed and disrupted with increased expectation for
achievement although failure for society to understand the trauma they have faced conspiring to
the struggle for independent survival. Failure to understand basic skills contributes to a lifestyle
fragmented with insecurities depleting self-esteem which is imperative for success and selfsufficiency. Foster children will not have the means to make choices with success as they age out

Jaclyn Jerse
OCCT 655
of the system. A decision involving education, employment, housing, or relationship that may
seem simple to conclude, may lead to detrimental results due to the unavailable support system.
These individuals are not provided the cushion to make mistakes and bounce back out of a
difficult situation because of the provided parental support. For example, obtaining a stipend
from foster care resources may challenge ones logic, impulsivity, and behavior due to the limited
knowledge and understanding of financial management. This sum of money may escalate
negatively rather than providing a buffer to assist one in becoming independent in society. These
individuals most likely have not had the financial responsibility to manage money due to the lack
of funds provided. Given the power to control the stipend independently without the knowledge
of responsibility or potential consequences, may lead to potential risks that may be detrimental
toward their life. Poor decisions made may not be recovered attracting a descending spiral of
struggle. This leads to a lifestyle filled with poverty, illicit drug use, or prohibited behavior
leading to encounters with the law. The lack of stability decreases engagement with social
relationships, inhibits participation with age appropriate activities, and challenges performance
due to consistent impediments.

How did the book challenge or change your assumptions regarding this population?

This book challenged and changed my assumptions that were perceived regarding children who
age out of the foster care system, as I have been provided with greater detail of the lifestyle they
lived. I never could relate with these individuals due to my lack of understanding of their
childhood experience in comparison to mine. I knew they were not provided with the financial
support, but was unaware of the emotional instability leading to psychosocial trauma from their
experiences. They were never provided the opportunity to develop an understanding of
responsibility due to the inexperience with household chores and part time jobs. The world
expects young adults entering the world to have the accountability to live an independent life
with success. The world assumes the responsibility lies in the hands of the parents if the
individual stumbles upon barriers, which may be true in instances for those who have supportive
guardians to lean on. On Their Own has painted a clear perception of why foster children
experience more failure than success because their actions are pronounced. For example, if I am
short money for rent, I know my parents will be understanding and will provide the finances
needed to meet the requirements. As they understand this may be a great learning opportunity to
understand money management utilizing a stricter budget, my parents for see the long term
effects negatively outweighing the educational experience. Repercussions include the chance for
eviction or termination of lease, credit reports plummeting due to late or unpaid rent, or my
education impacted due to a part time job. Ramifications from negative experiences impact the
lives of foster children as they are unable to recover from situations with ease or assistance. This
has provided me with a greater sense of compassion and understanding of the experiences foster
care children encounter. Past judgments were perceived due to their behavioral outbursts leading
to negative conclusions, without obtaining personal insight of the psychosocial trauma they
faced. I feel that I have developed a greater understanding of the hardships they face empathizing
with the actions demonstrated throughout each narrative.

As an occupational therapist, how will the insights that you gained from this book
affect the way that you interact with future clients as occupational beings?

Jaclyn Jerse
OCCT 655
The insights that I have gained from reading On Their Own has developed my understanding
of the hardships foster children face. These stories have allowed me to appreciate the
opportunities that I have been granted and realize how fortunate I am to have parents so involved
in my life. As a future occupational therapist, these insights have aided with my awareness and
understanding regarding the various challenges that some individuals face, affected everyday
life. This will provide an occupational therapist the opportunity to offer assistance to develop life
skills that are essential to sustaining independence. Occupational therapy services may include
assisting individuals with employment applications, academic scholarships, or college
registration to persevere toward success, constructing a monthly budget to practice money
management and avoid financial debt, providing continuous psychosocial support and
encouragement despite the neglect, searching to find affordable housing and methods of
transportation, and establishing a mentorship to encourage permanent positive relationships.
Developing a rapport with these individuals may present difficulties due to their mistrust or
attachment, so it is important to maintain a professional while attaining to their occupational
needs. A practitioner will provide support to promote a successful transition toward adulthood,
with a continuous understanding of the social deprivations encountered. These individuals may
be embarrassed or disappointed with themselves, demonstrating feelings of defeat rather than
understanding the success achieved with difficulties overcome. Overall, I feel that it is most
important to eliminate all expectations or assumptions and collaborate to develop goals that can
lead toward a successful future.

How does oppression occupational injustice impact receipt or distribution of
services for this population?

Characteristics of violence and helplessness impede the lives of the hundreds of thousands of
children living life within the foster care system. The children are gradually promised a family
when entering the system as they decompress the everlasting trauma and stress that fills their
minds. They develop survival tactics due to the inconsistent guidance, correlating to high risk
future failure. We must demand justice and safety at every level for children, not only because it
is their basic human right but because those who grow and learn in just environments and with
the protection of families ultimately create humane and thriving societies as adults. This includes
a need for transitional services for all children aging out of the system to ensure successful
independence. Services must provide educational and vocational support, employment, life skills
training and a secure home environment at early ages before foster care services are depleted and
they are no longer eligible for services. Although resources are limited to project successful
transitional programs, I feel that it is our nation’s responsibility to assist these individuals toward
an adopted family to eliminate abandonment. Various children age out of the foster care system
without a family impacting their future. Developing support groups and encouraging counseling
seminars may provide other alternatives to encourage a future toward success.