ALISHA, February’s Young Person in Profile, entered foster care following her mother’s challenges with substance abuse. Moving between foster, kinship (in the care of relatives), and group home placements, she struggled to develop healthy attachments.
Now 26, she is a member of the Children’s Aid Foundation’s Young People’s Advisory Council (YPAC) and a former youth advocate and leader with the Pape Adolescent Resource Centre (PARC), an initiative funded through the Children’s Aid Foundation. With the support of the Foundation, ALISHA has received ongoing enrichment and educational funding, which continues to help her strive towards her future goals of attaining a career supporting at-risk youth.
*The opinions and views expressed in this article are that of the youth in profile, and not necessarily reflective of the official opinion or position of the Children’s Aid Foundation.
I never thought that I’d be in the position to be a child welfare advocate, like I’m in now, and I always wanted to work in the helping field and give-back to others. I need to get back to school so I can get into a role where I can support other youth from care.
“I was living with my mom and her boyfriend, and the Children’s Aid Society was called because of substance abuse issues. I remember the day I was apprehended and separated from my siblings; we were taken into care and assessed by clinicians. It’s definitely an experience you don’t forget. And then, I moved into kinship care, and that became an abusive situation, and I ended-up back in care.”
“My whole lifestyle changed upon moving into my first foster home, and I began acting-out and was placed in another foster home. I got comfortable with that family, and then was moved into a group home, which ended-up being OK; I met a lot of people that I know to this day.”
“I didn’t really understand the relationship between my mom and me; it’s just how it was. I’m a young mother, and I’ve always known who I am. I don’t think I’d be where I am if I hadn’t gone through foster care. If it wasn’t for care, I wouldn’t have been involved in all the things I’ve gotten involved with, like the Young People’s Advisory Council, and be able to make a difference.”
“Family does not necessarily mean that we bleed the same blood; it means people who accept me for my flaws and accept me for who I am. It’s my friends, it’s my boss, it’s the family that I’ve made for myself. I have lots of extended family, and anywhere I work I feel like a mother hen. I have a daughter, too.”
“I’m a member of the Young People’s Advisory Council and used to work at PARC, too. In 2014, I was going through a really difficult time, but my worker believed in me and helped me to believe I’d be able to get a job at PARC; and I did that following year. It’s been a bumpy ride personally, but through my career, it’s been really positive. I had the opportunity to work with the Children’s Aid Foundation and the Young People’s Advisory Council. YPAC has been my greatest accomplishment; I never thought that I’d be in the position to be a child welfare advocate, like I’m in now, and I always wanted to work in the helping field and give-back to others. I need to get back to school so I can get into a role where I can support other youth from care.”
“Don’t count us out! There’s lots of youth in care who are changing society for the better. We’re just people; we’re not that different. I have the title of foster child, young parent, and it’s [made me stronger].”