"My life is all over the place . . ." / by richard ross

This is my second time here. The first time I was here I was 16. But that's the normal life in a bad neighborhood. I been to foster homes, group homes, shelters, placements, everything that probation and DCFS has had, I’ve been through it. I was six years old when my mom and dad divorced. I have two half brothers and a sister. I was living with my dad, he used to be a commercial scuba diver. But I don't surf or anything. I don't need anything to do with water.

 It’s when I go home that things go to hell.


I been to placements like a six bed facility in the Valley, I was there 7 months. I succeeded out there and completed their highest levels. It’s when I go home that things go to hell. I stayed with my mom for four months, then she messed up and I took off for a good 2 or 3 weeks. I would do crack . . . I guess I’m addicted. My dad used to do crack and alcohol. My life is all over the place. I deal a lot with mental health services for anger management, lots of group therapy. I went to a foster home when I was 14. I was into meth, but I’m gonna stop. I’m gonna stay sober. I have a son that was born three weeks ago with my ex-girlfriend. She screwed up. Meth is self-medicating for me. But I’m trying to do restitution. Maybe they’ll put me in a drug program. You can be with probation until you’re 25, but I plan on being there for my son . . . unlike my mother and father who weren’t there for me.

-D.G., Age 17


**Interviews with youth are recorded to the best of our ability. All personal histories and anecdotes are self-reported by the children. To protect confidentiality of the youth, identities have been obscured, initials have been changed, and identifying details have been removed. Interviews have not been edited for content.