By Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO
Dear CASA Community,
December is here, and 2022 is right around the corner! Are you with me in the sense that this feels like both the fastest and the slowest year in memory? Kudos to all of you for continuing your good work during a time of unprecedented challenge. Our heartfelt efforts together are what lead to positive change and quality advocacy. It takes a village, and we are the village! Thank you for all that you do, big and small, to serve your communities.
Last month, we launched Hear My Voice, a new series of first-person testimonies from people with lived experience with the foster care system. For the first in the series, we heard from Kalynda, an adoptive mother of three, who told us about her experience navigating the foster care system, and the beauty and challenges of parenthood. In this edition, we got the opportunity to talk with Jackson, a young man who aged out of the system.
As you’ll read in his story, Jackson grew up with abuse and entered the foster care system when he was 7 or 8 years old. He went through eight school changes while in foster care and his father passed away when he was 10. Since aging out, he’s experienced homelessness, been in and out of jail, had multiple near-death experiences, and has struggled to survive.
“Life today is really hard, but I have peace of mind,” Jackson told us. “I don’t stress no more, I don’t worry about things. I might be broke and be out there homeless, sometimes sleeping in front of a store, but I feel like I found peace of mind.”
Jackson’s story paints a stark reality of how hard life can be for young people who age out of foster care without the support and connections they need. At the same time, it also shows us who he is—a beautiful soul full of wisdom, faith, strength, love to give, and hopes and dreams for the future.
Like the thousands of other young people who’ve experienced foster care, Jackson deserves the opportunity to be heard; to be meaningfully involved in creating positive change; and every chance at happiness, safety and success. We hope that his story, and the stories we will share for this series in the future, will inspire all of us to keep the wisdom, insight and lived experiences of the young people and families we serve at the forefront of our hearts, minds and advocacy.
We are also excited to share a happy local story about a night straight from a fairy tale—a Quinceañera for a girl in foster care that CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County hosted, celebrating her 15th birthday and soon-to-be adoption.
And, since Friday, Dec. 3, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we explore that topic as it relates to foster care and share resources.
No one knows what the system is like, how it can change for the better, and how we can best advocate for those within it, better than those with lived experience. If you or someone you know has lived experience in the child welfare system and would be interested in speaking with us for our Hear My Voice series, please reach out to our Communications team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May your holidays be warm, bright and filled with love.