During the National Alliance for Grieving Children conference, Dr. Heidi Horsley interviews Maryana Stern of Foster Club and a former foster child in the system. It’s a peer to peer support program, and you need to have been in foster care yourself to participate. Now an advocate, she works to change policies that will improve the experience of foster care and works with children around the world. Another aspect of her work is serving as a mentor and big sister to foster youth who might not otherwise have that experience and support.
Having come from the foster system herself, Stern can connect with youth in a very intimate way. One of the biggest challenges she recalls is losing something—it’s not necessarily the death of a parent. However, it might be the loss of your childhood, losing touch with your siblings if they’re placed in a different foster home, or losing your rights. You are losing someone or something as a foster child. Her advice for foster children is to know that others have been in your shoes.
Stern is now in college. She reflects on what she’s been through and what she has to go through. However, pushing through the tears and hardships is another day and another challenge you’ve overcome. She urges foster youth to not give up and to seek out support where they can. Know that support doesn’t always look like you think it should and it can come in many forms.
Don’t let anything get to you, and try to be the change you want to see. A lot of foster kids don’t graduate, they might get pregnant young, or otherwise aren’t able to achieve their dreams. However, you can be the difference and advocate for younger foster children.