How Michigan shortchanges foster children facing life as adults

By Ted Roelofs: For More Info, Go Here…

Despite what she’s endured, Lansing resident Brina Williams realizes that among her peers she might consider herself fortunate.

“I know there’s a lot of other people in foster care that have gone through worse experiences than me,” she told Bridge Magazine.

Williams, 18, entered Michigan’s foster system just shy of her 15th birthday after years of what she said was verbal and sexual abuse from her mother’s boyfriend that prompted a family court judge to approve her removal from her home.

So began her journey through foster care, first to a home with a relative, then to a second and third foster care home. She was homeless for a couple weeks.

At times, she said, she was so distraught she cut her skin, starved herself and threw up her food. She had head and stomach aches from acute anxiety and trouble sleeping. In her lowest moments, she thought of suicide.

“It was a lot,” she said.

Williams’ challenges are anything but rare among an estimated 13,000 Michigan children and young adults in foster care — and approximately 900 who “age out” of the system every year, leaving behind its social supports. Disproportionate numbers suffer from a grim parade of mental health issues and poor educational outcomes, a burden advocates say Michigan’s safety net fails to fully address.

The government’s ability to help is undercut by several factors, from a state agency charged with protecting vulnerable children not doing its job, to a mental health system that can’t reach a sea of traumatized children. Adding to the challenge, Republican lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed a budget deal that stripped funding that could have expanded a promising advocacy program for foster children.

Leave a Reply