Archive for July 2008

UPDATE – Premature Birth, Mentally Ill Mother – 50 Foster Homes

July 11, 2008

STORIES FROM HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

AN UPDATE on Jonathan Norman Huges:

A little over a week after profiling Jonathan, there is an update. Jonathan is currently in the county jail for stabbing another teenager.

According to a According to the Child Welfare League of America, 27 percent of male children who age out of the foster care system end up in jail. Jonathan has quickly become another statistic.

Read the Aging Out of Foster Care interview on PBS at:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/youth/jan-june05/foster_care_5-19.html

Meet Johnathan Norman Hughes, born at 6 1/2 months to a mentally ill mother. DHS – Children’s Protective Services in Michigan removed him from his mother after his sister reported neglect. After living in more than fifty foster homes, he ran away from his last foster home at sixteen years old. He says, not once did the police, his case worker or foster parents come looking for him. “If she (foster parent) reported me, then she wouldn’t get the money no more. She didn’t report me. She got the money and I didn’t want to be there and that’s a fair trade. She got what she wanted and I got what I wanted. She wanted free money without the responsibility and I wanted to be the heck away from this place. We both got what we wanted.”

Teenagers Need Adoption Too – 25 to 30 Foster Homes

July 2, 2008

STORIES FROM CARE GIVERS OF HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Gwendolyn Ross – Mama Gwen – Career Development Specialist – Covenant House New Jersey – Crisis Center

The teenagers need to be adopted to.

“I have seen scars on their body. They’re just chopped, chopped.”

When Mama Gwen tells you stories about her students, you have no choice but to site and listen intently. Her emotions boil over. Tears well up in her eyes. She’s feels their pain and you can’t help but feel it yourself.

“When you hear young people tell you I’ve been in 25, 30 different foster homes Mama Gwen, nobody really cares about me and this is why I’m homeless today.

Because if they cared, even if my grandmother would have cared, or my auntie or uncle but no, they don’t care so they’re homeless. Once they become a teenager seeing like they want the little children. They won’t want a full grown teenager.. They feel like they’re already set in their ways,” Mama Gwen says as she breaks down in tears.

“They want to be adopted as well and they’re labeled. And that’s why you find them before they get here (Covenant House), they’re in the street, they’re sleeping at the train station, they’re sleeping under the train station. They’re sleeping wherever they possibly can because there is nobody, once they’re 18 and it’s ok, you’re case is closed, where do I go from there?

Once they turn 18 years old they don’t even want to hear the word DYFS, they don’t want to be bothered no more. They can only think about what they’ve been through with the state. They have an attitude, they’re angry, they’re hurt and when you say things to them, well DYFS can do this for you now, please Mama Gwen, I don’t wanna hear nothing about DYFS. That is the bottom line. They have to go through anger management. They have to go through all different types of skills to bring them back as a whole person. They’ve just been chopped, chopped. Literally. I have seen students shown me scars on their body.

And I’m thinking to myself, well if you’re with DYFS, why didn’t somebody do something about this? Because, Mama Gwen, (the students tell her) they don’t care and that’s the bottom line. There has to be a change.
If you can’t give them type of foundation, that type of love, don’t take it for the money because in the long run you’re hurting the children.” It’s takes only an instant for the phone to ring and Mama’s back on focus. “He didn’t show up for his interview? Well don’t worry, I’m back and he’s show up this time.” Mama looks up, “Gottta stay on top of these kids all the time.”

Mama Gwen Loves All The Homeless Children

July 2, 2008

STORIES FROM CARE GIVERS OF HOMELESS FORMER FOSTER CHILDREN:

Meet Gwendolyn Ross – Mama Gwen – Career Development Specialist – Covenant House New Jersey – Crisis Center

Everyone loves Mama Gwen. Former foster children, runaways, drug addicts, homeless kids, case workers, office staff, it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone loves Mama Gwen.

“Since I’ve been here,  I’ve been here eight years, and the students gave me a new name. They call me Mama Gwen.

I’ve asked some of them (homeless kids taken in at Covenant House) why do you wanna call me Mama Gwen?”

The students are quick to answer.

“Mama Gwen, you can take the place of a mother to us.

A lot of people never had a mother figure in their life and people see you as
that person. I’ve grown to know you and have major respect for you. You treat me just as my mother would treat me, with respect. I honor you. Like I really do bow down to you. You are Mama Gwen, you deserve that name.

You show love to everybody,” one of the girls said.

Mama Gwen greets everyone she passes by but make no mistake about it, Mama Gwen’s no push over. Tell Mama Gwen the truth and all will be good. Lie to Mama Gwen and she’ll call you into line. She’s there to help the kids, help them find employment, follow up when they don’t show up for work, teach them how to dress for an interview, build their self respect and that’s only the beginning of what Mama Gwen does for these kids.

“Yes we’re here to teach job readiness skills but most important are life skills, how you can survive out there. Social skills, how you can take directives from your employer because sometimes we’re so angry inside we don’t even want to hear the employer tell us ok, right now you’re not busy so we need you to go over there and sweep.” She belts out a big, “SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP, what you talking about sweep? I didn’t get hired to sweep no floors!”, mimicking the kids.

“I really wanted a lot of kids but I only had one. But I didn’t know that there was a plan that I would have 45. So I have a lot of kids in this world and we are all family. That’s how we work together. Family have to reach out to one another and help each other grow and develop. Don’t you think you can’t teach me,” she says lovingly.