Like many of our families you likely feel passionate about the opportunity to advocate for a youth but unsure about what is involved in fostering a youth on probation. Often the best way to better understand how you can make a difference is to hear directly from youth who have experienced the challenges that result in entering the juvenile justice system and the changes that helped make a difference in moving forward.
We would like to share Angel’s story with you. After missing the support of his parents as a child, getting in trouble to ‘stay busy,’ and landing in juvenile hall, Angel’s foster family helped give him a fresh start and he is now on his way to a successful future.
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“My parents weren’t in the picture at an early age. My father was incarcerated when I was around three. I didn’t have my mother around at all, she left me at about a year old. I was lucky enough to have my grandparents take custody of me.”
After Angel relocated to Modesto he found himself getting into trouble trying to stay busy. “As much as my grandparents tried to teach me good values I was pretty hard headed.”
At the age of 11 Angel landed in juvenile hall. “Hearing the judge tell me I was going to be put in temporary placement. Those words didn’t register as foster care or not being around people you know or what you call home.”
When social workers told Angel it was time to leave juvenile hall the first thing he asked was if he was going home. “She said no you’re not going home. You’re going to come live out in another town with another family and I just burst into tears. That’s what scared me.”
It took Angel time to accept the transition to a foster home. “I did not like authority coming out of juvenile hall. I did not trust adults at all. And for the first time when I realized my social workers, my foster family, people that helped mentor me were not out to get me, it was like a weight was lifted off of me.”
“In a way I felt like it was a gift. I would not have matured the way that I did. And I would not have qualified for these programs that got me a job and got me through school. It made me realize that every time I elevate or do something good it is very important to bring someone else up because if they hadn’t done that for me I don’t know where I would have been today.”
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