“Mark” is a 30-something, Caucasian, who was in Texas foster care for nine years, ages 9-18. He had two placements over those nine years, both foster families. He had positive experiences with his case managers and feel they made right decisions on his behalf. He characterized his experiences as more positive than negative.
Being in foster care made Mark feel fearful and has resulted in a lot of internal anxiety. He described the worst part of his experience as unequal treatment occurring among the biological children and himself.
He made a successful transition to adulthood and a career, improving his circumstances from his childhood and obtaining two advanced college degrees. His youth pastor was significant to his support system that made that possible. His foster care tuition waiver was also instrumental to his success.
He thinks the main purpose of the foster care system is “to assist young adults in becoming mature, and to provide a safe environment for growing up.”
Casey Family Programs (2011) calculated, based on AFCARS reporting, that the average number of placements for children in foster care is 3. His length of time in the system, at nine years, was well over the national average. Childwelfare.gov reported for 2012 that only 6 percent of children were in-care for longer than 5 years. More than half of all children were in-care for 1-23 months (Child Welfare Information Gateway). Fear and anxiety are commonly reported experiences shared by children in foster care. Being in foster care in frequently associated with adulthood anxiety and other mental health concerns or stressors.
Mark worked hard to overcome the statistics associated with education and being in foster care. A University of Chicago study in 2010 found that 50 percent of foster youth do not graduate from high school and Casey Family Programs reports that only 3 percent of foster youth receive a college degree. Mark is clearly an exceptional example.