YYA Spotlight: Kirsten’s Story of Resilience and the Importance of Youth Voice


Kirsten is from Abilene, TX. She currently serves as a member of the YALC and is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. Her lived experience includes involvement with CPS. She has worked closely with outreach organizations such as BCFS that help youth with their transition out of the foster care system. 

Kirsten has a strong passion for helping others, especially regarding systems change and youth in foster care. She is very excited about her position as a YALC member as she hopes it will increase her ability to advocate for what she believes in. 

Kirsten recently worked with TNOYS on a blog post about her experience in the child welfare system, how having her voice heard could have made a difference, and how she hopes to influence change for other young people in similar situations. Read on below.  

Trigger warning: the post contains references to domestic violence.

There I was fourteen years old being called down to the principal’s office with no memory of doing anything to end up there. I nervously made my way down the hall and saw a police officer standing in the office. I wondered what could be going on as I opened the door, but as the interview went on it became clear that the school counselor had not believed the previous story about my black eye. I was distraught as I explained my home situation and they informed me that they would be sending CPS to my house. Over the next two months, I was involved with CPS after attempting to leave my home, however they continued to return me there even after I tried to run away. To successfully leave my home I had my neighbors take me to Noah’s Project where CPS became heavily involved again with the cooperation of my parents.

My parents only cooperated due to the fact that CPS heavily supports reunification as the main goal, and I felt trapped having visitations with them. At the same time, I was uprooted from everything I knew and sent 8 hours away from Abilene to a group home. This took around two years of visitations and constant back-and-forth, as well as three separate placements. I lost a lot of my teenage years due to being consistently ripped from my support system which was my boyfriend (who later became my husband), and a couple of friends whom I am still extremely close with. None of this would have happened if a caseworker had heard my voice and respected it as a teenager capable of making decisions.

I continued to feel unheard and unrespected in the CPS system until I aged out. I opted to stay in extended care in an attempt to make contact with my biological siblings and this was the first time I felt heard by anyone. This still could not make up for the four years I spent in the system not feeling heard and I can only imagine it’s the same for many other kids in foster care. If just one adult had listened and fulfilled my wish to not be with the family they took me from, or my desire to be with the friends and little support that I had, I could have had a much more comfortable time navigating the system and building myself up to be a successful, happy person.

Despite the obstacles I encountered throughout my teenage years, I am proud to say that I graduated high school and am currently working towards my bachelor’s degree in Social Work. As a YALC member,  I hope to learn more about all seven systems so that I can better advocate for youth in any or multiple systems. My goal is to impact and amplify the voices of as many youth as possible as I navigate my time on the YALC. I  hope that my experience in the child welfare system will serve as a tool for providers and legislators to implement change in systems. Since my story is not “typical”, I hope that it will give providers insight into how to better support other youth who do not have the “typical” story.

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>