In my other life, as well as being still involved with art, I was a Youth Care Worker, and a foster parent. I worked with, youth a risk, troubled kids, and young offenders for over twenty years. Granted, I could use my creative gifts at times with these kids, but generally, I was very busy and caught up with all of the demands and responsibilities of youth care work. This consisted of meetings, reports, being a liaison with the community, and with family members. First and foremost, I always saw my role as being an advocate for the youth I cared for throughout the years.
We live in a disposable society. This attitude tragically, and shamefully seems to have been applied to our children, as if they were throw away kids, and often are children without hope and love in a world that states and professes to believe that children are our so called greatest resource. Talk is cheap and empty.
The most frustrating thing for me, was not working with the youth directly. It was my vocation. In fact the most frustrating thing, was simply working within a broken system, that was mostly self-serving, and dysfunctional. I saw youth and families fall through the cracks, judges and social workers that didn't have a clue, and on too many occasions, I saw an appalling lack of support within the system. It was disheartening, disappointing and most of all heart breaking.
A good friend of mine posted this film that is disturbing, touching and very revealing. I hope it touches you.
I am now past the day of considering foster care again or working as a youth care worker again, and focus primarily on my art work. There are many people who could and can, and I hope they do consider being a Youth Care Worker and or fostering.
The system of course is in dyer need of change, and reform. In the meantime there are many children and youth that need safe, secure and loving stable homes.
As a volunteer in the prison system, I know how many of the prisoners I got to know, started off as foster kids. They came from abusive situations, and where shunted from home, to home, to home, often in abusive situations growing up. It is not difficult to figure out how, and why so many of these, at one time children, ended up in so called 'youth jails' that pose as therapeutic facilities, and eventually find themselves within the prison system as adults. Once inside, there is next to no help available, many have mental health issues that are left untreated, and they are basically warehoused. It is staggering to learn the high percentage of inmates that have be sexually abused as children, and how many are First Nations. Upon release there is even less support and the cycle continues.
We have have a very serious crisis with our youth in Canada, in North America and throughout the world. I remain hopeful but it is difficult, when there are not enough people who care in the world, enough to make a difference.