We spoke to a young woman, Gloria Martinez, who grew up in foster care and offered some great insight into how communities can help. Her goal is to help others who are walking in the shoes she once walked.
Gloria says programs like CASA, the Thru Project are really helpful and important.
“When you are in CPS, most people are just strangers, who hear about your life. Caseworkers come and go. But when I met my CASA, Cathy, she was always there for me. She was there with me at every court date, no matter where it was. Later she started up a program called SA Threads, which is also a great way to help kids in foster care (see separate article.)”
The Be Real program, which helps foster youth who are aging out foster care, has really helped her. Now 20, Gloria explains that without organizations like Be Real teens exiting foster care have few options.
If you don’t have anywhere else to go, “they get trapped in that same life that grew up with,” Gloria said.
If there is one thing she could change about the foster care system growing up, it would be making it possible for children in foster care to play team sports or be part of other extracurricular activities.
“Before I went into foster care I loved playing sports,” Gloria said. “Once I was in foster care I never really got to play sports again. Being on a team teaches kids a lot. It’s important. It also helps you to stay healthy, and stay in shape.”
She explained that she was moved around several times, and it seemed like “it was always temporary.” And many of the schools she was enrolled in were Charter schools, which didn’t have active sports programs.
Whatever the reason—we are sure it’s different in every situation—Gloria wants to advocate for children in CPS care to have greater access to playing sports.
“Being in things like sports would really help kids in CPS,” Gloria said. “And that’s what we should all do—help each other.”