Stories from Group Homes, CPS, and Emergency Shelters.

Read more about Juvenile-in-Dependence here.

I have been here for four months. Before this I was at XXXX hospital. They give me a lot of mood drugs, the one I remember is Lithium. They give me something else that keeps me from getting sleepy. Sometimes I get out of control when I eat sugar. At home I live with my Aunt and four cousins, 1 male and three female. My Dad doesn’t cook unless it is in the microwave. Sometimes it is just my Dad and me. My Mom is somewhere wandering around. I was 10 years old when she left. My parents were separated. They were divorced. She needs mental health services. I am the only child I think. My grandma and grandpa are from the Dominican Republic. I have been in the hospital sixteen times. All juvenile mental hospitals. Last time I was there for one month and five days. When I am there it is always a bad time because you are not with your family. I get in fights because of name calling, stealing, talking trash. I don’t get into trouble when they have activities that keep me busy-roller-skating, Sport time USA, Basketball. Things like that. In school I am in 8th grade. In public school there are like 25-30 kids in the class. Here a lot less. My dad visited me here once or twice. May Aunt-Never. Some of the kids are aggressive, some are kind. You got to get along with it. I work as a cottage assistant. I get paid $36.75 take home. The rest goes into my savings. Some I take home. I think I have a good personality. I am kind of curious and like to do what is right. My Dad paints in an auto body shop.
— M.B. Age 14
I’m from here, pretty much—from the system. I don’t know my parents. I only know the system. I have been here 8 months. I am going to graduate and then join the Marines. I would be the first of my family to graduate high school. One of my sisters lives in XXXX. The other? Who knows. I first met my sister when we were in Foster Care together. She taught me how to tie my shoes and play chess. She was adopted out of foster care and I haven’t seen her in five or six years. I had a lot of anger. They put me on meds but I wouldn’t take them. They put me in the hospital. They said I was hyper, but every kid is hyper. In school, kids would know I was in foster care. I was in 45 foster cares but none worked out. I’ve always been in places like this. I have never been out of XXXX. I’ll be looking at doing that one day, not now. I have a vision of these places. If I can remember that, I must be closest to home. I DON’T TRUST ANYBODY; people use your feelings against you. If I am in an emergency I call my social worker. I don’t go home. THERE IS NO HOME TO GO TO.
— K.H. Age 17
I am here for three weeks. I was in the program and worked with an ACS Social Worker. I was staying at the placement center at 23rd street for 3 weeks while they looked for a place for me. At least there I had a bed and clean clothes. The days turned into weeks in order to find me the right place. I was in the Hospital in Harrison, St. Vincent’s. There was a physical altercation with my mother. I was supposed to be getting help but not really in the system. They had me diagnosed as physically aggressive and emotionally disturbed. I wasn’t getting along with both my mothers (biological and foster). I was adopted by one parent but then the girls were bullying me. I wasn’t abiding by their rules. I ran to my biological mother. We were getting into arguments over minor things. I was 10 months old when I was given up by my biological mother. She had problems and couldn’t afford me and she was doing drugs when I was born. She left me in a room by myself and someone heard me screaming. They took me and my brother to a foster mom. At 13, I started to really get into trouble. I couldn’t believe I was adopted. I thought I could trust everybody but the people I thought I could trust turned their back on me. She would tell me something like education was more important than social networking and I didn’t believe her. My social networking, my hookups and my Facebook became more important to me than anything. It wasn’t a 24-hour thing. I would do it for about two hours a day. My mom (foster) also adopted my brother. I don’t know my biological dad. I would get in fights with my mom. She would hit me. I kicked her. She called the cops. Since I have been adopted my mom treats me like family. She is a caseworker for a private agency called CASES in the city. I am a good writer. I do poetry and essays. I won a citywide contest. I won the poetry contest with a poem called WHAT IS LOVE? My mom has serious health problems now. She has something wrong with her kidneys.
— K. M. Age 14
Mom’s been in jail now for five years. My father is a DJ. They separated when I was 8 or 9 years old. My mom and dad were fighting with somebody else and my mom threw acid on her. They charged her as gang affiliated. My mom said they were partying. They left me in the house with my older sister. I was 8 or 9 my sister was 10 or 11. This couple they were jumping on my father. He had a knife. My mother was trying to protect us. She mixed Clorox with some other chemicals. They both went to jail. We were in our aunt’s house and were just there crying a lot. Then we went to a shelter with our dad the third day after he got out of jail. We lived with him for a year or two years and then we started having problems. My father and my mom’s father got into an altercation. My grandma said that my father was putting his hands on us. When my mother was in custody my father had an affair and my grandmother was upset. Now my mom is working out better caring skills. There were behavior issues and I was disrespecting my parents. Fighting, going AWOL, drinking, smoking, and truancy. I don’t like my mother; she’s not fair. She makes me feel bad about myself. She’s not interested in me. Sometimes I go to a girlfriend’s house or stay out all night. My mom was 19 when she had me. I know how to be careful. I see my dad but I’m not supposed to see him. Me and my brother have the same dad. My mom has four kids. Two each from different fathers. My mom gives my older sister more attention. She WANTS me to get upset. I would get home visits to my dad. I wasn’t allowed that before. My dad is a DJ. He plays old school, real old like 90’s stuff. Chris Brown, Fabulous, J da kiss, Bobby Schnerda, and Chief Keef. I was sexually abused when I was 10 or 11. I was living with my aunt and one of my 19 or 20 year old cousins. He would touch me and tell me to shut up. They have drug counseling here. I share a room with two other sisters. My family is all confused. My father doesn’t let me get on a train but I am 14. He is always babying me. I have been starting fights with people here. They have me on Lexapro. I’m bipolar. I smoke weed here. The Lexapro blurred my vision.
— T.L. Age 14
I’m from Puerto Rico, and also XXX. I was eight years old when I went into foster care. I’ve been in 12 different foster cares. Mom had a case of abuse. My dad was sexually abusive. I told my mom but she didn’t believe it. I told my grandmother and my counselor. They took me out of my home. I was scarred. They took my dad away. I went into the hospital at XXXX, the Children’s Unit. I was there two weeks. Now I have been in foster care for eight years. I never liked it. I didn’t see no social worker. I went to XXXX Hospital for a year and a half. I had behavior issues. I was fighting a lot. I went to XXX Children’s Psychiatric Center. I was there for nine months. My mom and dad were always fighting, always arguing. I’m not going to use that as an excuse. I would like to be with my mom and dad again. Who do I trust? I don’t even know. I can’t have a phone. I am not on that level. I’ve been here two months. There are kids that have been here for years. I have a foster mom that I go to. She was a caseworker and she was adopted herself. She is going through the process of adopting me. I’m not sure what the difference between foster care and being adopted. I’m hoping it works out. I trust her. Her name is P.
— F.I. Age 15