Group Home

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Noel Anaya spent a year in a group home when he was 12 years old.

The moment I stepped into a group home, I felt like it was a mistake. There I was, with about a dozen other teen boys.

On my very first day, I got into a fight during a basketball game. I was physically restrained by a staff member and put on “lockdown.” I had to stay in my room and keep apart from the other kids. I didn’t feel like a kid in time out. I felt like an inmate. Our lives were super regimented.

At night, staff walked the halls with flashlights — looking into the rooms. I met regularly with a therapist who prescribed me medication. I remember almost all the kids there were on something. We lined up for our medicine. The drugs made me feel like a zombie.

I was eventually returned to my foster family. It took me a long time to adjust to normal life.

We were sent to the group home to turn our lives around. But for some of us, we ended up worse off than when we started. That’s the problem: group homes are supposed to be a safe haven for kids.

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