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Foster "Care"

On any given day, there are nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States.

This is me at age 4.

I'd enter the foster care system for the first time a year later.

The System

In 2019, over 672,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care. Black, LBGTQIA+ and youths with mental illnesses are disproportionately placed in foster care. Black youths are twice as likely to be placed in foster care as White youths. These youths often come from families living below the poverty line; poverty and all of the issues related to it increase the likelihood of substance use and homelessness.

Here are some terms associated with this harm:

  • White Supremacy

  • Homophobia

  • Racism

  • Transphobia

  • Systemic Racism

When a child becomes too old to remain in foster care at age 18, or in some cases 21, they “age out” of the system without permanent families, housing, or necessary resources to live on their own. Transitioning between foster care homes often leads to an increased likelihood of institutionalization. Foster youth are often subjected to disproportionate discipline and criminalization, pushing many young people into the “foster care-to-prison pipeline”.

Kids At Home

There are several reasons why the foster care system remains the way it does. The terms listed above along with associated beliefs can be found in almost every policy, bill or law regarding child welfare. Lawmakers are often centering their beliefs in their policies instead of centering the welfare of the children in these systems.

Here are some specific reasons the foster care system remains the same:

  • Discrimination against LGBTQIA+ parents and children

    • LGBTQIA+ youths are often discriminated against in the adopting process or they are adopted by unaccepting homes.

    • A lot of laws and policies keep LGBTQIA+ parents from adopting.

  • Fetishization of Transracial Adoption

    • Years of fetishizing transracial adoption has lead to many youths being placed in unsafe homes along with people not wanting to adopt domestically.

  • Ageism

    • Teens are often not adopted and this leads to an increased chance of them falling into the foster care to prison pipeline.

We Outchea

Since becoming more vocal about my experiences and my time spent in the foster care system, I've met so many other people just like me. They all at some point were very ashamed of being "a foster care kid" but have now embraced it and share often. Patricia Gatlin (She/Her) and Di Ciruolo (She/Her/Ella) were both amazing guests on Absolutely Not! who shared their identities and experiences with me on the show.

Without their ability to name harms by the system, I would not be able to do the same.

Here are some organizations working towards a better system and experience:

"It is time to abolish the child welfare system in favor of something that is inherently anti-racist and truly prioritizes support for, not dissolution of, families."

If you learned anything from this article, please support the mission. 💜

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K Mataōtama Strohl (They/Them) works to create psychologically safer environments for people who share their identities or their lived experiences. Through research, case studies, and personal anecdotes, K creates a safe space for participants to examine how their experiences, behaviors and engagements work with the world. K is also the host of two popular podcasts, Absolutely Not! and Questions Answered.


K is BlackSāmoanQueer ,Transgender and a disabled veteran. K lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a Substance Use Disorder. 

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