To most people file folders are used to organize documents. Yet to the thousands of individuals who have spent time in the foster care system, a file folder is a representation of the impersonal care with which their lives are documented. The contents of these file folders are used to stringently monitor and make decisions about the future of the individual in care, often without the input of the foster child themselves.
“A file folder to me is an example of the distant relationship the social services has with their children. It’s always them who chooses when it opens and when it closes, what it reveals and what it takes out. A file folder is a manilla barrier to remind a foster child that to social services they are only a passing thought.” ~ Amanda Bonella, In foster care for 12 years
“A file folder symbolizes helplessness and hopelessness. It represents a cold reality that I am nobody’s child. It means that I am merely a case file, a number, another depressing statistic. The contents and labels in this file will determine which home I go to and how much support I will get. This file is a life sentence of rejection and abandonment.” ~ Erika Klein, Crown Ward for 8 years
“I didn’t have a photo album filled with happy family pictures. I had a file folder about me written by social workers, therapists and family court workers. A file folder I wasn’t allowed to read.”
~ Violet-Rose Pharoah, In foster care for 15 years
How the Project Started
The project concept originated after recognizing that there is a lack of positive exposure for individuals who are in or from the foster care system. Society has become all too familiar and comfortable with hearing the negative statistics.
“In the past 5 years the number of youth in care has increased by 70%”
“Youth in care are twice as likely to drop out of high school, enter into the adult welfare system and be underemployed”
“While roughly half of their peers between the ages of 18 – 24 are still living with their parents, youth “aging out” of foster care don’t have that option. Canadian and international research shows that between 40 and 60 % of these youth end up homeless”
While it is important to acknowledge the difficult realities that individuals in or from care are up against, what about the recognition of the achievements? Life in the foster care system is often thrust upon the individual without choice. It is an experience that requires an incredible amount of courage and resilience. Being in the foster care system itself is a success.
Imagine the positive impact we could have if we took the time to listen firsthand to those in and from the foster care system. To acknowledge and celebrate the successes they have achieved while navigating through the challenges of life as an individual in or from foster care.
Who Can Apply to the Project
Anyone currently in or from foster care who wants to be a part of creating a community that inspires, encourages and promotes the message of success.