In 2017, Rise educated dozens of young mothers who grew up in foster care in order to prevent children from being unnecessarily removed from home.
Through Know Your Rights presentations at Covenant House, the NYC child welfare agency, and in mother/child foster care group homes citywide, young women learned about child welfare law, how to address risks through preventive or mental health supports, and how to protect their families by asserting their rights.
When young people who grow up in care are expecting, they long to break the cycle of foster care placement and create families they can be proud of. And when child welfare systems take children into foster care, they make an implicit promise to do better by them than their parents could have. Too often this promise is broken—not just for an individual child, but across generations.
Data analyzed by New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services in an effort to better serve this population showed that between 2006 and 2012, 1 out of 3 young mothers in foster care had their children removed from their custody before they’d ever left the system. Unconscionable removal rates continue after young parents age out of foster care as well. Data kept by some NYC providers suggest that as many as 25%-40% of mothers under 25 whose children enter foster care in New York City were themselves in foster care in childhood.
Since 2012, Rise’s special project for young parents who grew up in foster care—called “My Story, My Life”—has trained more than 40 parents in their teens, 20s and early 30s to write and speak about their experiences, and advocate for change. Two special issues address these young parents’ experiences, rights, strengths and needs: Generations in Foster Care and What It Takes.