Sixto Cancel is a former foster youth who aged out of care; the founder of “Think of Us“, an organization dedicated to changing foster care in America; a member of the National Foster Care and Alumni Policy Council and a new board member at the National Juvenile Law Center, having been recognized as an Ashoka Fellow and a White House Champion of Change. Today he published an Op-Ed in the New York Times and shared it with this introduction:
I’m proud to share with you my latest Op Ed, published in the New York Times, titled I Will Never Forget That I Could Have Lived With People Who Loved Me.
In it, I share my story of growing up in foster care and how simple changes could have made all the difference for me. I tell about my brother’s experience growing up in group homes and Think of Us’s work in Away From Home, which uncovered so many similar stories of young people who have been unnecessarily institutionalized. These stories are important. The work we are doing is not based on only one story or abstract facts. It is based on proximity, true experiences by those living the reality each day.
Then, I describe the Think of Us vision for steps we can take to begin fixing our broken system. In this visionary world, youth do not enter foster care for reasons of poverty. When there is true abuse or neglect, youth who enter foster care are placed with kin by default. In this more perfect world, we better recruit foster parents, and we place foster youth with strangers only as a last resort. Group homes in foster care are no more.
It’s time to lift up and center the parts of the Family First Act that prioritize families and deprioritize institutions. It’s time to support the young people who will abruptly age out of foster care when the moratorium on aging out expires. It’s time to fundamentally change our child welfare system.
We need to face these realities. It’s time to put these conversations, these ideas, these truths forward.
One thing you can do right now is to read the full piece in the New York Times, and share it with one person. Then, consider making a contribution to Think of Us to help us make this better world a reality for young people.