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Running head: FOSTER CARE INTERVIEWS

Foster Care Interviews


Dani Goddard, Lauren Hoppe, Jaclyn Jerse, Susan Kaiser, Sam Mitchell, Tiffany Poon,
Johnny Rider, and Nicole Sellers
Touro University Nevada

FOSTER CARE INTERVIEWS

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Interview 1

1. What is your age? 23


2. How long were you in the foster care system? Can you briefly describe your experience?
I was in the foster care system off and on from age 0 to 18 in four different states. My mom
would up and move us to another state, and so I was in foster care in four different states up
until I was in second grade (Montana, Colorado, Texas, and Wyoming). My mom had
bipolar disorder and when she would have an episode she would often times end up in the
hospital or jail and they would see by her records that she had a dependent and they would
come to get me. I continued to go in and out of foster care until I was about 14, and then
from age 14 on I remained in the system. I would take care of myself when my mom would
disappear for days on end. I have probably been feeding myself since I was 3 or 4 years old
and I would take myself to school or skip school in general. I once missed about 10 days in a
row and was close to being kicked out of the schools system. But I would just stop
answering the door when the social workers would come to pick me up and hide from them
and just wait for my mom to come home.
Once she drove me and my older brother, who is 3 years older than me, to Colorado, but
she didnt have custody of my brother at the time and was arrested for kidnapping so she
went to jail and my brother and I went into state custody. My brother and I have different
dads, and so my brothers dad took him but didnt want me to live with them, so I went into
foster care for a little bit and was then sent to live with my grandma in Texas until my mom
got out of jail.
When I was about 16 years old, I was living with a foster family who went on vacation
without melike, they went on vacation without me! And it was around Christmas time so
that was hard. I went to stay with one of their friends (Mike and Kelsey, a young couple in

FOSTER CARE INTERVIEWS

their mid-twenties) while they were on vacation. I knew them a little bit from church but it
was still a little weird when I went to stay with them. On my first night there Kelsey gave me
a gift and I felt really welcome and comfortable living with them. I then went back to living
with my foster family but didnt feel welcome there anymore and didnt want to stay. Mike
and Kelsey said that I could stay with them but they were not registered foster parents so in
order to make this living arrangement happen my case worker figured out that I could live
with them through an Independent Living Program where they would rent a room to me
and act as my landlords. The program provided me with rent money that I would pay them
each month, for legality reasons, even though they didnt really want to charge me rent. From
there on I was living independently by the states viewpoint until I aged out when I was 18
years old. They have been the most stable family I have had, and they are my family.
3. Do you remember any of the foster care families you lived with when you were
younger? I know I lived in many different homes and I remember a lot of them but one
foster home in Colorado stands out to me and two homes in Wyoming.
4. What were your major life goals at the age of emancipation? Go to college. It wasnt
even a thought not to go to college. I received an amazing scholarship that required a threestep process including a personal interview. However, with that I was able to choose any
school I wanted and I received a full ride scholarship. I chose to got to Azusa Pacific and
received a Bachelor of Social Work.
5. What resources were offered to you as you neared the age of emancipation from foster
care? The Independent Living Program. I felt the government had programs to help,
although I feel like a lot of it goes unknown if you are in that situation and you have to
actively seek it out or have someone watching out for you to find these services and help you

FOSTER CARE INTERVIEWS

apply for them. Luckily I had a very good social worker at the time to help me through it,
who I still keep in touch with.
6. How involved were your social workers/foster representatives/foster parents in your
transition? Lets just say I had 20 social workers, even though Im sure I had a lot more than
that. Only one was really supportive and helpful in what she did. And only one lawyer out of
all of them was very good and supportive.
7. Were there any particularly influential people in your life who helped you prepare for
living independently? Mike and Kelseythey didnt have a foster care license or anything,
but by total God-planned coincidence, I lived with them. They were my landlords and I was
renting a room from them, but they have been such a blessing in my life.
8. Did you receive any preparatory education or courses to help the transition to
independence and adulthood? No, just basic high school classes and some college courses
(Kelly Walsh High School and Casper College).
9. What was the longest period of time you had the support of a consistent adult in your
life? Besides Mike and KelseyPat, who was a neighborhood friend, [would let me] go stay
the night or have dinner with her [when my] mother was gone. I continue to keep in touch
with her and see her every time I go to town.
10. What is your relationship with your biological parent(s)? Still talk to them, not like we
are close though.
11. Do you have siblings? If so, were you placed with them and are you still in contact?
I have 3 brothers, two are much older and my mother was stable when they were young and
moved out by the time she had me. My brother that is three years older than me lived with his
dad, so we were never placed together. I still talk to my mom and see her when I go back to
town.
12. What would you consider to be the biggest hurdle/challenge that you had to overcome
or still have to overcome? Knowing my worth and knowing Im worthy and enough and

FOSTER CARE INTERVIEWS

have a purpose. Because when you are floating from house to house you become a case file
more than a person. That was my biggest hurdle to overcome, that I was a person and I am
worthy and can have the success and love other people get and have. This isnt a struggle
anymore because of my relationship with God and Him placing such purposeful relationships
in my life and always providing me what I needed at that moment. I would not have the
experiences I have had without my life playing out just the way it did. I think my life is not a
testament to how strong I am, but how perfect Gods plan is.
13. What have you learned since you exited foster care? Systematically, there are a lot of gaps
and brokenness in government programs.
14. Is there any advice you could offer to others in the foster care system to help them
successfully transition to adulthood? To remind them to be bigger than the circumstances
they have been given and even if you are set up to fulfill a certain statistic somewhere,
internally you have the strength and power to overcome that. It can be very disheartening in
the foster care system [because there is always the assumption that] since I am this, I am
going to be that.
15. What changes within the foster care system do you think would be most beneficial?
Preventing burnout from the social workers and making it so there are fewer barriers to help
them (the kids in foster care). Even if it is taking the child out to ice cream or to the park and
not just Im here to snatch the child away. More resources to decrease burnout and make
them more involved, and more money to figure out long term care.
(S.S., personal communication, February 10, 2015)
Interview 2
1. What is your age? 25 years old.
2. How long were you in the foster care system? Can you briefly describe your experience?
From 8 to 18 years old. I was removed from my home due to physical and sexual abuse. I do

FOSTER CARE INTERVIEWS

not want to go into detail, but I lived with my parents and multiple relatives in a poor and
rural area. I was the only girl in the house other than my mom and suffered abuse from
multiple relatives until CPS removed me from my home because a neighbor reported her
suspicions.
3. What were your major life goals at the age of emancipation? Figure out how to get a job
and find a place to live with other Deaf people.
4. What resources were offered to you as you neared the age of emancipation from foster
care? I dont remember foster care really offering much help other than a list of resources. I
had some money from my last foster parents and they were my biggest support. I didnt
know how to finish high school, apply to college, get a job, and find housing or what to do. I
didnt fully understand my right to an interpreter and wondered how I would go to college. It
was my goal, but I didnt graduate high school and it was mainly my goal because everyone
told me it should be.
5. How involved were your social workers/foster representatives/foster parents in your
transition? My social worker saved my life by removing me from my family. They tried to
find [foster] parents that knew ASL but it was hard. My last foster parents, when I was 16
and 17, knew the most ASL. That foster mom took college ASL classes and found people in
her church that knew ASL to help. My foster dad learned as much as he could but was never
as good as my foster mom. Their kids learned a lot, too, which meant the world to me.
6. Were there any particularly influential people in your life who helped you prepare for
living independently? My foster mom. They (my foster parents) have continued to help me
financially even after I aged out of foster care, but the money was limited due to their
financial limitations. They did not adopt me, but I feel as though they did. I have not had any
contact with my real parents, they live in another state, and the only people I feel support me
is my last foster parents and friends. They have many other children though, and it is hard

FOSTER CARE INTERVIEWS

sometimes because I know they love me, but they have biological children and adopted
children that are younger and need their time and attention. I made some good friends from a
Deaf youth group at my last foster home that I still associate with and they have taught me
most of what I know about living independently. They have taught me how to manage my
finances, do online banking/shopping, they helped me with my GED, they even helped me
with public transportation and housing. I feel most comfortable asking people my own age
for help, because it is embarrassing that I dont know some things that other people my age
know, but they have always been kind and helpful.
7. Did you receive any preparatory education or courses to help the transition to
independence and adulthood? No. I think I had two meetings with my social worker about
it that maybe lasted an hour each and they gave me some papers with information. One time
there was an interpreter and the other time there wasnt, so I didnt get much out of it. I went
to the local Deaf center for most of my resources because they knew ASL. My foster mom
didnt even know how to help me get a drivers license without a birth certificate, but she
figured it out and helped me through that very long process.
8. What was the longest period of time you had the support of a consistent adult in your
life? Ages 16 to present.
9. What is your relationship with your biological parent(s)? I do not have a relationship with
them and do not plan to ever have one. I have distanced myself from them and try to forget
how they treated me.
10. Do you have siblings? If so, were you placed with them and are you still in contact?
I have two older brothers, however, they stayed with my parents and never learned much
ASL, so we didnt ever talk. We played together as children, but as far as I know they were
never put in foster care and I have not had contact with them. Maybe someday I will.

FOSTER CARE INTERVIEWS

11. What would you consider to be the biggest hurdle/challenge that you had to overcome
or still have to overcome? Besides language barriers, I didnt graduate high school and it
took me almost three years to get my GED. I am working full-time as a janitor at an
elementary school because it doesnt require a lot of communication with co-workers. I am
just now starting college classes at a community college and trying to figure out what I want
to do with my life. I didnt have much direction growing up. School was hard, and I switched
foster homes and schools often. I was given goals in life but didnt have any of my own
and I definitely didnt know how to achieve the goals I was told I needed to have. Not
having a drivers license was difficult. I was shocked to hear my friends had bank accounts
and savings accounts. I didnt have any of those when I turned 18. I was not a very happy
person until the age of 16 when I finally felt supported and loved.
12. What have you learned since you exited foster care? That education is very important for
my future. I have met fellow adults of foster care who had it worse and some who had it
better. Life isnt fair and we have to make the best of what we havehaving friends makes
life a lot better. I had a lot of good foster parents, but some of them had so many children of
their own, or over the years, that they couldnt really provide support after I left their house.
However, I am grateful for their help at the time. My friends are my stability but I know I can
go to my last foster parents in emergencies.
13. Is there any advice you could offer to others in the foster care system to help them
successfully transition to adulthood? Find a support grouppeople who had a good
upbringing, who you feel comfortable with, who will help you without judging you. I would
be living on the street if I didnt have good friends and foster parents that have supported me
since turning 18.
14. What changes within the foster care system do you think would be most beneficial?

FOSTER CARE INTERVIEWS

I think housing for youth aging out would be beneficialmaybe subsidized-type housing
where we could be independent but have support services. Help with getting identifying
documents, setting up a bank account, learning public transportation and giving us a cell
phone, even it was a prepaid one for emergencies.
(K. T., personal communication, February 10, 2015)
Interview 3
1. What is your age? I am 16 years old.
2. How long have you been in the foster care system? Can you briefly describe your
experience? I have been in and out of the foster care system my entire life, starting in
California and continuing in Arizona. When I was younger, I knew what was going on but
never really thought anything of it or really even wondered why. But as I got older I realized
why I was going to these homes, and there were some homes that were great and the foster
parents were amazing, and there were others that were horrible and I got treated badly. I
came to the conclusion that the difference was some families did it to help kids and others did
it for the money.
3. What are your major goals at the age of emancipation? Now being at that age I would
have loved to simply live on my own and start living a normal life, but within the foster care
system there are some really good perks to growing out of it because they give you health
care benefits, as well as money for you to live off of every month. Emancipation would be
great in some ways but in others you miss out on a lot.
4. Have any resources been offered to you as you near the age of emancipation from foster
care? There are subsidies that can be granted to a child of age that help them to get their own
place to live and keep them going in order to give them time to get a job. The state also offers
grants to children who have been in the foster care system in order for them to go to college.

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5. How involved are your social workers/foster representatives/foster parents in beginning


your transition? My foster parents are extremely involved and want to see things continue
to head in a positive direction, but mostly my case workers have always come to see me as
little as necessary. I'm not completely sure if that was [because] they didnt want to come see
me or if it was because they wanted [it] to seem as though my life wasnt monitored all the
time.
6. Are there any particularly influential people in your life who are helping you to prepare
for living independently? Yes, my foster parent at the time is teaching me a lot of things
about management and fundamentals of life as an adult.
7. Have you received or plan to receive any preparatory education or courses to help ease
the transition to independence and adulthood? No, in my life my parents were never a
great influence and never really took care of me. I mostly took care of myself or my sibling
helped so I became very independent at a young age and I dont believe that it will be a hard
transition for me.
8. What was the longest period of time you had the support of a consistent adult in your
life? I have had some influential people in my life, but the most has been my friend and
foster parenthe has taken care of my family and helped us whenever we needed it since I
was only about 9 years old, so he has always been in my life, whether I wanted him to be or
not. I subconsciously knew he was always there if I absolutely needed him.
9. What is your relationship with your biological parent(s)? I keep in contact with my
parents, and we are fairly close. I go see them every so oftenthey are still a big part of my
life.
10. Do you have siblings? If so, were you placed with them and are you still in contact? I
do have siblingsI have 2 older brothers, 4 sisters (three are older and 1 is younger). I keep
in contact with my oldest brother and my youngest older sister. My other siblings are all
adopted out and dont really want anything to do with me.

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11. What would you consider to be the biggest hurdle/challenge that you had to overcome
or still have to overcome? I think the biggest thing for me to overcome is to deal with the
fact that my family has been strung out and wont ever be whole againthe fact that my
family will never be close or hang out and talk, because they all despise each other and dont
really want anything to do with my parents. I guess the fact that my once "family" will never
really be a family again.
12. What changes within the foster care system do you think would be most beneficial?
They should allow the children to get together and talk about thingsthey shouldnt restrict
[contact] just because they are in the foster care system. The foster care workers need to be
evaluated more before being allowed to become a foster care worker; that includes all case
managers as well as foster parents.
(D. T., personal communication, February 11, 2015)