Juvenile Law Center

Pursuing justiceA Juvenile law center Blog

May 10, 2012

Guest Blog: "For Me, Being a Teen Parent in the Child Welfare System Was Very Hard"

posted by Samantha, former foster youth

My name is Samantha and I entered care at two years old. I was put into foster care because my mom had a lot of kids and was also on drugs. All the first foster homes I was placed in were really bad because of the treatment that the foster parents gave me. I was in five foster homes, one group home, two treatment placements, and a Supervised Independent Living program (SIL). I aged out of care at 21 and am now living in a transitional housing program. 

Tags:Child Welfare and Foster Care|Permanency (Foster Care)|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)
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May 03, 2012

Aging Out Then and Now: A Call to Action from John LeVan, Foster Youth Alumni, Class of 1979

posted by John LeVan, Foster Home Finder and President, Board of Trustees, Coatesville Area Public Library, Pennsylvania

[Ed. note: This post is part of a series of blog posts Juvenile Law Center will be publishing during National Foster Care Month to call attention to issues facing foster youth who are aging out of the system]. 

Much of my childhood was spent in foster care in Pennsylvania. During that time, I moved approximately 25 times and went to five different schools. The experiences of growing up in foster care and the feelings of fear, worry, loneliness, confusion and depression that are associated with the realization that next year, next month, or next week you will be on your own transcend time. When I aged out of the foster care system in 1979 at the age of 17, I felt all of those feelings and more. 


Tags:Child Welfare and Foster Care|Extended Care and Reentry (Foster Care)|Permanency (Foster Care)|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)
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May 01, 2012

Recognizing Foster Care Month—And What You Can Do To Help

posted by Juvenile Law Center

Today marks the beginning of National Foster Care Month. Juvenile Law Center joins advocates, organizations, and citizens across the country in renewing our commitment to improving the lives of foster youth—some of our most vulnerable children. 

Each year, approximately 30,000 youth in the United States age out of care in the child welfare system without the support of family. These young people, talented and rich with potential, face enormous challenges and obstacles, and research overwhelmingly shows that they fare poorly as adults. These youth deserve a chance at success. Fortunately, the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, signed in 2008, provides states the opportunity to follow through on our commitment to youth in the child welfare system--but states must take affirmative steps to implement the options that apply to older youth.


Tags:Child Welfare and Foster Care|Extended Care and Reentry (Foster Care)|Fostering Connections|Normalcy for Foster Youth|Older Youth with Disabilities|Permanency (Foster Care)|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)
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March 30, 2012

Political Rhetoric Obscures Rational Dialogue on the Affordable Care Act and Its Benefits for Children

posted by Juvenile Law Center

The historic legal arguments for and against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) have concluded. The future of the ACA now rests in the hands of the United States Supreme Court. Tragically, the legal and political wrangling over the Act's provisions has largely obscured the desperately needed benefits the Act provides to millions of American children. This is hardly surprising. With no political access of their own, children are the least likely among us to hear the echo of their voices in our country's legislative chambers.

Whatever the outcome, the Affordable Care Act unquestionably has taken a bold step in taking seriously the medical needs and interests of America's children.

Tags:Access to Healthcare|Coveredtil26 (Health Insurance)|Child Welfare and Foster Care|Fostering Connections|Transitions to Adulthood (Foster Care)
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March 26, 2012

Rutgers Hate Crime and "Youth as a Defense": Misconceptions Abound

posted by Juvenile Law Center

A recent and disturbing New York Times headline underscores how little is understood about youth, human brain development, and the law. This is exactly how harmful public perceptions are created and perpetuated—when people in influential positions make sweeping conclusions based upon incomplete information. The headline read: "Rutgers Verdict Repudiates Notion of Youth as Defense." 

The story was written in response to a recent verdict in the high-profile Rutgers University hate crime case. Eighteen-year-old Rutgers freshman Dharun Ravi used a webcam to spy on his gay roommate, Tyler Clementi, and invited friends to watch as Mr. Clementi engaged in a sexual encounter with another man. Tragically, Mr. Clementi committed suicide a few days later. Prosecutors charged Mr. Ravi with a hate crime. His attorney characterized Mr. Ravi's behavior as nothing more than a stupid college kid prank. But the jury wanted the 18-year-old to be held accountable and found Mr. Ravi guilty. 

The article went on to say, "The failure of the jerky-kid defense is likely to change the legal landscape by showing that jurors can conclude that young people who are sophisticated enough to spy on, insult and embarrass one another electronically are sophisticated enough to be held accountable." And, "the notion of innocent youth as a shield to culpability might not hold as much sway as it once did in court... ." That anyone, must less the New York Times or other legal professionals, would draw such an all-encompassing conclusion based upon this case is alarming.


Tags:Juvenile and Criminal Justice
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