Feeling Safe in the Real World

Foster Care Youth United (FCYU) is a bimonthly magazine published by Youth Communication in New York. Since 1993, FCYU has provided a forum for young people to write about their experiences in the foster care system. Contributors hone their writing skills, but also connect with and advise each other. A core staff of 15 based in New York writes most of the content, but submissions are accepted from around the country.

Most of the submissions excerpted here are from young people who participated in FCYU workshops in San Francisco, where foster care youth age out of the system at 18.

Young person on the curb, head down, with a birthday cake on his knees. I fear finding myself poor, living on the streets, smelling like old garbage, wearing the same clothes every day with no one to turn to, no money, no friends, no nothing. Maybe I’ll be trying to sleep on the cold, lonely ground under the freeway in a dark box. …Why would they put me on the streets after I told them I am not ready? How will I make it? I’m not used to having no supervision.
— Erik, 16.

I tried going home to my mother’s house, but that didn’t work for long. There was nowhere else to go but to live with my only friend in her car, where every day I lashed out at her, feeling that she, too, didn’t understand what I was going through. … No matter where I went, I felt judged, alone and angry. I couldn’t simply ‘get over’ my past, as people kept telling me to do.
— Hazel, 18.

Young man in suit much too big for him being handed a briefcase My greatest fear about leaving the system is knowing that I will be living on my own, paying my bills, having a whole lot of responsibility that I don’t have right now and that I need to gain before it’s too late.
— Patrick, 16

They should open up a facility where former foster youth could go for help and advice. It would have day care for people’s children and a resource center to help clients with housing. It would have counseling services and social workers on call. … If they had a center like that, it would be easier for former foster youth to feel safe in the real world.
— Stevisha, 17

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