Waiting For A Family: A Special Report On Foster Care

To become a foster kid, it all starts with a court-order: a social worker or judge determines it is not in your best interest to remain with your biological parents, and you are removed from their home. But you’re only a kid — you still need a place to live and someone to care for you. That’s how you enter the foster care system, a state-run program that’s supposed to provide for you until you can move to a more permanent, safe and caring home.

But for some kids, their stay in the system can last for years. Youth Radio takes you deep into the world of kids who grow up in foster care. These are their stories.


Emancipation: One Young Man Leaving Foster Care On His Own Terms

In one of the few photographs from his time in foster care, Noel (right) and his brother Ulisies pose with a foster couple. Noel says he has no memory of this placement. Noel has had several foster care placements over the last 20 years.

Former foster youth Noel Anaya entered foster care when he was one year old. He says he feels like he was promised a family, but he never found a permanent home. Now he’s 21 and about to “age out” of the system. Given all he’s been through, he says the moment is bittersweet.

Listen to his story, which aired on NPR’s All Things Considered, here.



How exactly does the foster care system even work? This interactive walks you through the different stages through the eyes of a foster youth.


Three Former Foster Youth Reflect On Their Time In The System

“Finding Family In Foster Care”

Youth Radio reporter Melissa Beavers, 22, was in elementary school when she was placed in foster care. She says her former foster mother was the parent she always dreamed of.

“When Home Feels Like A Prison”

Youth Radio reporter and former foster youth Noel Anaya, now 21, spent a year in a group home when he was 12 years old. He says from the moment he got there, he felt like it was a mistake.

“Applying For Health Care As A Former Foster Youth Not So Easy”

Imagine paying $400 for glasses when you can barely afford to pay for bills and food. In this commentary from 2015, former foster youth Joseph Hill explains he didn’t know there were programs available to help him with expenses.

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