I am here today with two beautiful women, Lauri Burns and Stefani who have shared their stories with us. Lauri’s story of a troubled youth of child abuse to heroine use to prostitution and Stefanie had been sharing how she’d had a traumatic childhood that led her to cutting. Here now as mother and daughter since Lauri became Stefani’s foster mom, we’re talking about the foster care system and their experience with it all.
Lauri decided to become a foster mom when an abused child came into her life. She was denied due to her past and was told to reapply 7 years later. It just so happened that 7 years later, another abused child came into her life. That’s when she reapplied and became a foster mom for the first time. Today, she’s fostering about 60 teens and just opened a 100-bed facility, so she expects to be fostering about 160 teens by the end of 2014.
It was after she took a position on the advisory board for their county that she found out 25,000 teens are going homeless in the foster care system every year. After these children turn 18, their foster parents no longer receive government help and that’s when they pushed out their foster kids into homelessness. In many cases, the foster parents are only fostering children because they need the money.
Foster Care Statistics
In California, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 youth are homeless and living on the streets.
A National study reported that more than 1 in 5 youth who arrived at shelters came directly from foster care.
More than 1 in 4 had been in foster care in the previous year (National Association of Social Workers).
Studies across the nation indicate that between 24 and 50% of former foster care/probation youth become homeless within 18 months of leaving the system (California Department of Social Services).
25% of those in prison were once in foster care.
Foster parents are suppose to be self-sustaining, but many who aren’t slip through the system because we are in a major deficit of foster parents. Going forward, Lauri wants to educate the community to reveal the issue of homeless foster children. Many don’t know what can happen to those children once they reach 18 years old. Also, foster children have a bad reputation as being “bad” kids. Stefani is a prime example that even children with troubled pasts can heal and grow past that trauma. Lauri says, “I get more from my girls, my kids, my family, than I could ever give to them.”
Lauri stays in touch with her kids that have moved out and they often meet the kids that are currently living with Lauri. Stefani says she feels that Lauri really is a mother to her, “She’s given me everything that my mom couldn’t; a home, a room, a car, a safe place to sleep… food.”
I’m so grateful for all of the work Lauri does to help our kids heal. If you want to get involved by volunteering or becoming a foster mom, there are plenty of places where you can help.
To learn more about Lauri Burns and The Teen Project go to theteenproject.com. To watch Stefani’s interview, click here: Stop Cutting and Self Harm – How I Overcame Self Hate.
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