shelter

"Because I’m the new girl" by richard ross

I’ve been here and there for a month at a time. I was a month in girl care. Mom and dad don’t live together. If I get out, I really don’t have anywhere to live. The last time I lived with my mom was in a shelter, four years ago. It was a shelter for kids as well over on Gower in Hollywood. I had just turned 12. I remember it there was never a birthday cake for me. I’ve been in group homes where there’s a lot of dual supervision. One group home had boys and girls together, DCFS and probation. And they were completely out of control. They were crazy. They be peeing on other people’s beds, or taking a crap . . . they’d be having sex . . . I stayed there for three days, and then I got kicked out. One of the staff was very provoking, so I choked her and went. Then they put me in another placement. It was a six-bed place, three different houses.

They were trying to get me to stay with my sister . . . but she don't want me.

I’ve always been fighting a lot . . . I just don’t like to be disrespected. I should get a high school diploma soon. They were trying to get me to stay with my sister—she’s 22—but she don't want me. My days here are me just sitting here, until like, at least next year. My mom is a meth addict and she sells crack out of our house. My dad, he’s a pimp. He’s also on drugs. My mom started doing drugs when we were taken from her…or maybe before then. My dad, he was doing drugs since forever. I went AWOL from placement just so I could go to a mall and chill with my friends. Usually I just do some weed. When I was 13 I drank for two weeks straight. I poisoned myself and I could have died, but I didn’t. I would get real bad beatings from my mom. She kicked me in the face when we were living in the shelter. She started choking me, they pulled her off and took me away.

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I’m mostly here because I don’t have a place to go to.

I barely talk to my dad. I’ve never been to a foster home. Nobody wants any older body in a foster home. I think foster homes are a lot quieter. Group homes I get into lots of fights just because I’m the new girl. I was gangbanging but they never caught me or charged me. When you bang you protect your territory, nobody can touch your property, or make any money on the property you own. If they try, the gang put on a T.O.S.—termination on sight. Means you kill them, hurt them, or beat them up bad. I’m part of BPS, the Jungles. Black Peace Stones. The Jungles are the projects; they’re in Crenshaw. They run from Coliseum all the way up. Girls get humped into the gang. Means they have to have sex with all the gang members. If you’re gay or a virgin, then you have to fight. You fight to get your rankings. You fight boys or you get jumped on or you do one-on-ones. Honestly I don't know where my case stands. I might get camp, or lockdown, or placement. But nobody from placement has come to get me. Most of the places I’ve been are dual custody. I’m mostly here because I don’t have a place to go to.

-T.U., Age 16

 

**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.

"My son is now in foster care." by richard ross

I live with my mom and my sister. I’ve been here three times . . . Now I’m waiting for a different placement. I was in my first placement at 12. I AWOLed from school a lot. I started hanging out with my boyfriend. I though it was okay because I looked at a lot of magazines and everyone seemed to be just hanging out. The first time I came to placement a social worker came to school, this old guy, and said, “I’m taking you to a group home.” It was six kids in Orange County. I also had to go to a new school. I stayed there two months, then I AWOLed. I met up with some girl and we split and I just slept at her house for three days. Then I arranged to meet with my cousin through Facebook and he sort of set me up. They took me to a mental health lockdown for three months. But then I had to leave because MediCal only pays for 90 days. So they took me to a group home in Hollywood. I was there for three months and then I graduated. I went home. CA_Central_12_15_13-13

 I though it was okay because I looked at a lot of magazines and everyone seemed to be just hanging out.

I got pregnant at 14 while I was in placement. My son is now in foster care. I saw him last month. He’s a year and two months. He’s beautiful. His father is the boyfriend that I AWOLed from the second time I was in placement. My first placement was in Torrance. It's a bigger facility. Then I asked the court to release me to a shelter in Hollywood. So I stayed at a homeless shelter. It was a DCFS hold for runaways. I stayed there 30 days, the max. I AWOLed with a different boyfriend. Yea I do some drugs, weed, meth, I pop pills, ecstasy, mollies, and inhalants like NOS. They use it for speed car racing. I’ve never had to prostitute. I have my second boyfriend’s name tattooed on me. He’s a gang banger, 18th Street Gang. There’s both Latinos and Blacks in the gang. What’s this for? Is this gonna be on TV or something?

-W.T., age 16

 

**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.

"They tried to get me involved . . ." by richard ross

I’m from Palmdale. This is my first time here. I’ve been here three months. I’m from Helena, Montana. I live there with my mom, stepdad, two sisters and a brother. I was visiting my grandpa and grandma in Palmdale. I go there once a year during the summer as it gives me a break from my mom and her a break from us. I was with my brother. He does drugs like heroine. I visit a month every year. My brother is part of a gang, but they don’t have a name. They are just kids that hang out together. At home I was suspended for truancy. I was in sixth grade. CA_Central_12_15_13-6

My brother is part of a gang, but they don’t have a name. They are just kids that hang out together.

A lot of time here I play with my cousins they are four and five. My brother does heroine like twice a month. They tried to get me involved but I didn’t want to. I ran home and told my mom. She called the police and my brother was sent to jail twice for drugs and possession. Mom is a vet at an animal shelter. Not horses or big animals. My dad works at a gas station. He’s with my step-mom and other cousins. I don’t see him much. My mom, grandma, grandpa, and stepdad have visited me here. This is where Palmdale is on the map.

-C.N., Age 12

 

**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.