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A foster child’s journey

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part series that will look at life in California’s foster care system for both foster children and foster parents. All names of foster youth or former foster youth have been changed to protect identities.

The foster care system seeks to serve children first and foremost, but it’s easier said than done.

After a foster child has gone through a complex court system (see part one), he or she is sent to a new home, which is intended to be a safe haven for children who have often experienced abuse or neglect. In many cases, the new home is safe – a place where the child is nurtured and loved.

But there are sometimes foster parents who are equally, if not more, abusive as the child’s biological parents. A study done at the New York University School of Social Work indicated that 28 percent of foster children nationwide reported being abused in their foster homes.

Gail, a former foster child of Sonoma County, is all too familiar with instances of abuse that can happen in a supposedly safe home. She was in the foster care system from 1985 to 1990, during which she lived in three different homes.

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