State's Foster Children Deserve Permanent Families

Publication: Billings Gazette

Author: Schylar Cornell Canfield

05/01/2007 - I grew up in Montana's foster care system. I entered foster care at age 6, and spent the next 11 years moving from place to place. I moved 14 times - living in foster homes, group homes and even a children's home. Yet I never found the home I most wanted: a permanent home of my own.For many children in foster care, events like birthdays, holidays, the first day of school or graduation are hard, because they are a reminder of the permanent family you do not have. When I think about the birthdays I spent in foster care, I don't feel much emotion. The 11 years I was in care were absent of parties with school friends or colorful birthday cakes filled with candles. Sometimes, my birthdays were simply forgotten. Other times, I might get a card or a hand-me-down gift.

Aging out of foster care

My experiences in foster care - the number of times I moved, the forgotten birthdays, the longing for a permanent family - are not unusual. For many of the 500,000 children in foster care - 2,000 in Montana alone - they are common. While many foster children will leave the system and return to their families, or find permanence through adopted or guardianship, others will not. Each year, young people in Montana and across the nation will "age out" of foster care without finding a permanent family. In 2004, 92 young people (or 9 percent of the total number of Montana's foster children) left Montana's foster care system with no family and no one to rely on.

Read the full article on the Billings Gazette Web site.

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