29 May 2014 - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work

Victors Not Victims: A Different Face to Foster Care (2014)

"Victors Not Victims: A Different Face to Foster Care," directed by James Williams, is a film produced by Master of Social Work students who took the class Media ...

my name is Imani I'm 16 years old and

I've been in foster care for one month one week in five days my name is David day I'm 18 years old I've been in care since I was 10 my name is Nicole hastler and I was in foster care from the time I was 9 until I was 17 I mean Mary Graham I'm 16 and I've been in foster care for 42 days now my name is Ayana I'm 16 and I've been in foster care for 42 days growing up in a foster care system I was constantly told I would never amount to anything like a plan I could have allowed it to stop my growth but I had a choice I can either flourish despite the odds or fall within two cracks at a system the successes that the foster care system need to be told in the words of the late Tupac Shakur did you hear about the Rose that grew from the crack in the concrete pervy nature's law is wrong I learned to walk without having feet funny it seems but by keeping his dreams I learned to breathe fresh air long lived throws that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared my name is James Williams I'm 21 years old I entered the foster care system at the age of 1 I was taken away from my biological father me and my siblings

entered into the foster care system I was adopted at the age of five me and my half-brother and I stayed with them until the age of twelve they lost their parental rights I went back into the foster care system until the age of 19 during my stay in foster care I lived in many foster homes many different group homes experienced abuse and neglect while my staying care entering the foster care system I was 8 my parents passed away in a house fire both my parents passed away I lived with an uncle for a while with my two siblings my older brother and older sister after a while my uncle wasn't able to take care of us so my brother went to live with my aunt and me my sister went to live in a foster home Wow I went to the foster care system my elder brother and I both went to it at the same time just really wish that I had had a really good solid example of what family was supposed to be and I wish I had a strong example of what somebody who's leading a positive life was supposed to be the most impactful person for me was ty it's for him for him for his being influenced me to do a lot better because

he did nothing really shaded him nothing ever really got to him and he remains focused and steady in his grind and his hard work he never fought hurt he'd never fought hurt I have to say the influential person for me was my caseworker Kenya papillon she took me seriously my claims whenever I had issues that my different placements I remember one time one of my placements foster parents was hitting me you know after our argument and cops were called I was put in jail and I just remember sitting with Kenya in a bi-lo grocery store parking lot and you know just talking about life talk about where I wanted to go and what I wanted my future just be like in and I've never really had that conversation with anyone and to that point anyone who really genuinely cared to hear me out to actually genuinely wanted to know me as a person I former foster mom the the last one I lived with she she really inspired me she was always pushing me telling me to go to school move on like not let not drag the past with me all the time and uh always be resilient of things he was he was very resilient and that's something that I guess I adapted being

around him so I just applied to trade I applied the trade of resiliency resiliency uh how exactly did that help you it's a mindset it's a mindset that that goes into effect that nobody is here to do the work for you these are your circumstances this is your situation but how can you change it it is what led me to my success that it was on me everybody that up into that point that supposedly had loved and cared for me all turned their back on me at that at that gave me a moment of being inducted into the foster care system so therefore I was all alone therefore it was on me sometimes that's just the way it is in foster care you're probably gonna not have the best foster home you're probably not going to be at the best group home you're probably not going to have the best caseworker so what are you going to do from there and it comes down to the fact what is your future what do you want what do you want in life and how are you going to get that to be successful I want to look back like in 20 years and know that was here and that managed to become like exactly what I wanted to be going to college is important to me because no

one in my family actually went to college I'd be the first to attend and actually try to until graduated from college and just to make my family happy the most important made myself happy for me completing a ph.d program in physical therapy that that for me is my idea of success after going through what I went through the outcome is far more greater than what you are going through so for me the outcome the outcome was success if it wasn't for me being resilient I could have fought her and I could have stopped fighting a long time ago and I could have ended up God knows where so that's when I decided to look into culinary school and start getting my life together getting my GED going to college getting the job the most important thing I would tell a new person coming into foster care is to accept change and be willing to understand that it's not to hurt you it's supposed to help you and make you a better person to have like an independence about yourself and be strong and confident in who you are because when you're around a lot of different people and like you come around new people you

kind of almost lose yourself but you have to like know like this is who I am and sticks like your morals and your values when my parents passed away someone was trying to give me advice and I would tell them how do you know how I feel if your parents have passed away yet it's like once you've gone through the same pain I've gone through you can come and try to explain everything to me and if I try to give somebody advice I'll tell them I can sort of relate and I can try to help entering care was the most traumatic sit the most traumatic experience of my life I've never been so scared in my life in the moment of uncertainties sitting in a room going through a phone book of family members I'm trying to reach out to with my brother writing a letter to my father that was incarcerated at the time not knowing where we were going to end up we're in a box room not knowing scared it may result that or it may result good we didn't know we didn't know however once in it once realizing that we didn't have anybody we relied on ourselves we trusted and have faith in ourselves to

change the outcome and that's what I would tell somebody entering the foster care system as of now to trush yourself believe in yourself have hope for yourself if you go to foster care you know it's it's traumatic it's you know for a lot of people it's you know either traumatic or can be the best days of their lives you know it's so different in regards to the different cases but it's what you do with it you know if you're coming in from a bad situation or if you're coming in and you don't want to be there I mean how many days are just going to cry until you decide to move on from the situation and actually do something with your life meaningful with your life to actually inspire yourself and motivate yourself because you can't rely on anyone else what advice would you give to the foster youth who are exiting the foster care system my advice would be just keep your eye on your goal and forget about your past that's done with just keep on going towards your goal because you're going to get there and once you get there you're going to be happy you're going to feel success and you're going to be able to say I finally did something that I've

always wanted to do run run towards what you want to accomplish run run boldly in pursuit be be relentless in your pursuit with with the passion that's in your heart to achieve whatever it is that you want to accomplish you control the outcome now upon your exit it's on you it always has been on you I realized I was privileged in foster care because I've received so many services so many things were pushed my way I was eloquent I could advocate and I was a good story and I realized that there's so many youth that fall on a wayside at the end of the day there are many Foss youth are not being served at the end of the day these false youth are realizing that they don't have anyone that even the own system that supposed to be helping them out drop the ball as well and add to rely on themselves they have to rely on the resiliency they have to understand that I can't be a victim anymore I have to be a victor you you you

XML Transcript: