Few donors know the touching, personal stories that unfold after their gifts are given. This month, we thought we’d lift the curtain with an 18-year-old, ex-foster care child who was generous enough to share his story.
Andrew has spent most of his life with his mother — but, due to child neglect, he was put into the foster care system at 13 years old. “It was me and my brother, Jose,” he shared with us over a phone interview. The two brothers went to Idaho Falls for the first time to live in a group home, and, since they had each other, it wasn’t too lonely. After spending around 7–8 months there, they came to Nampa to live with their aunt.
But truthfully, he didn’t stay there long, either.
“I just did things without care.” Andrew started coming in and out of juvenile detention centers. He was sent back to Idaho Falls at one point — which wasn’t easy for him. He felt alone, separated from his brother. Then, he got back into juvie. “I was on probation for a long time,” he said.
After being released from a state juvenile correctional facility, Andrew was transferred to a group home in Nampa called the Treasure Valley Transition Home. “I was only there for 12 months … [but] it was a whole new place.” The staff really helped. Not only did they care about Andrew’s well-being, but they also cared about his future — even if it just meant making sure that he would get back home safely.
Andrew found that the foster care system “helped out quite a bit,” but additional efforts really mattered. When we asked what he thought about the Fostering Christmas “donate-by-wishlist” format, he said it was really helpful. “Most of the kids I was with [in Idaho Falls], they don’t have much family, or never had a present meant for them, specifically. It was a good feeling to get what you wanted.” From receiving board games to a brand-new PlayStation 3, Andrew never took the experience for granted. “That was cool. That was really cool.”
Andrew’s probation has recently ended. Now, as an employed young man, we asked Andrew: How can people best help foster kids, wishlist or not? For him, in his last transition home, being taught self-care, time management, professional dress code, and when to dress professionally were lessons that made a huge difference. “[The staff] put in time to ask me, and figure out: How can I improve? What will help me be successful?” *
If Andrew could change anything about the foster care system, he’d change the regulations for 16-year-old foster kids. “Once they turn 16, they should be able to look for jobs, and take classes on how to get jobs,” he said. Developing these skills before aging out of the program could be critical to their success.
We’re so proud of you, Andrew! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, and we wish you all the best while embarking on your next chapter. We know you’ll do great things!
* Calling all protectors and mentors! Social workers are in need of volunteers (who must pass a background check and be fingerprinted) to take shifts at an AirBnB for teenagers that can’t find a foster home. Please contact us with the subject line “AirBnB Foster Volunteering” to learn more!