Posted tagged ‘homeless’

Premature Birth, Mentally Ill Mother – Fifty Foster Homes

June 25, 2008


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.”

At seventeen, Johnathan was emancipated from the foster care system. “Until you can learn to live with yourself, you can’t live with nobody else. Especially when you’re young and out there on your own with no support, no family, no motivation.

He’s lived in Covenant Houses in Michigan, New York City, Newark and California. is “100% useful to me. You can be homeless and still have an email. You can be homeless and still have a life. Just because you’re not financially, doesn’t mean you’re not socially, doesn’t mean you’re not mentally, doesn’t meant you’re not physically. I was still breathing, I wanted to meet people, I wanted to socialize and myspace is a way to do that.”

“I believe myspace is valuable to anyone who wants to be realized, anybody who wants to be known, anybody who wants anyone to find them. Myspace is the best way. Myspace is the best way to be found.”

He’ll probably be at Covenant House another two weeks. “I can’t stay. I can’t. I can’t. Cause, it’s like, and if you read about the indigo children, it’s like I’m searching for something. Something big is coming. Like I said, I don’t know how I’d be if I was with my real mother but right now I’m where I want to be.

Interviewed on the streets of Newark during a night of Outreach to the community.


Victim of Child Neglect & Malnutrition – Days Away From Dying

June 25, 2008


Meet Willie Jacovra Harden, a victim of child neglect & malnutrition. DYFS removed him from his mother who was neglecting and starving him. He says doctors told his grandmother that he was days away from dying of malnutrition.

DYFS removed him from his mother and placed him in kinship care with his grandmother but never closed his case. There was also sexual abuse by his stepfather. He lived with his grandmother until 18 years old. His DYFS caseworker told him about a program, Urban Youth Development Corporation, a program for transitional living.

Their mission:

Our mission is to implement, advocate for, train, and provide technical assistance to programs geared towards youth ages 5-24 years old and parents.  Our programs are all research-based models formatted developmentally correct, cognizant of their impact on children and their families, foster clear beliefs and standards, offer opportunities and skill building to participants, and recognize the accomplishments of youth so that healthy behaviors can be adopted by participants; thus making a substantial impact on communities, families, and children.  The primary issues the agency addresses are problematic teen behaviors, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, school failure, violence, juvenile delinquency, and homelessness.

He was 18 years old, his case was closed and soon after he was thrown out of the program for behavioral issues ending up homeless. He found out about Covenant House and is living there now.

Interviewed on the streets of Newark during a night of Outreach to the community.

Jamillah and her Son

June 18, 2008

Homeless, unwed mother and former foster child Jamillah with her three month old son at Raphael’s Life House, transitional housing for homeless, pregnant women and babies, when born.

Jamillah, Aged Out, Homeless, Unwed – Raphael’s Life House

June 18, 2008

Made my first trip to Raphael’s Life House, transitional housing for homeless, pregnant women and their babies.

MEET Jamillah Williams and her three month old son, who has been living at Raphael’s Life House for several months.

Former foster child, aged out and homeless, now living at Raphael\'s Life House

According to Jamillah:

  • Her father sexually and physically abused her from age 5 to age 16
  • At age 16 she went to the social worker at her high school and told her story about her father’s abusive relationship. The worker called police/dyfs who took Jamillah and subsequently her two siblings and put them in dyfs custody
  • Says her father was an unregistered sexual predator who is currently in jail
  • Her biological mother is living in a shelter with her younger sister and her brother is living in a separate shelter

She’s unclear as to whether she was ever “legally free” for adoption. She “aged out” of foster care although has not signed herself out of the dyfs system ensuring her services until she’s 21 years old.

She seems to be advocating for herself in terms of receiving services. She has a CASA – court appointed special advocate – who she calls for legal advice but says that no dyfs worker has ever advised her as to any service or assistance that might be available to her.

One of the really interesting parts of the three hour audio taped interview was learning about how foster and homeless kids communicate with each other. My Space seems to be a lifeline. They used it to keep in touch with biological family members as well as other foster kids they meet as they move from home to home. Somehow they seem to always have internet access and utilized My Space as a way of updating each other.

Many also have cell phones cards with minutes to use the phone since they have no credit and cannot get an account.

I need to explore the whole idea of using My Space to track each other.

Identifying Kids

June 16, 2008

Back to Covenant House again this morning. Focusing of finding former foster kids who are now homeless and identifying those who are willing to commit to a long term project.

The kids are very transient and pinning a few down will be difficult.

Spending the day at Raphael House in Newark tomorrow. Interviewing 4 teenage mothers who were former foster children and now single mothers.

Raphael House