Thirty years ago, as a high school student in Warwick , I can clearly remember the first foster child my parents welcomed to our home. She was a close friend, and while I was too young to fully understand many of the struggles she faced, I came to learn much more about her challenges and others as my parents continued to care for more than a dozen foster children during my adolescent and young adult years.
I saw firsthand the vulnerability that the children experienced from being taken out of their homes, and admired how they coped with life’s challenges without the supports many of us take for granted. While there are angels in the foster care system like my parents and countless others, many foster children sadly do not receive the kind of care and commitment that they deserve.
A report issued by the Children ' s Advocacy Institute and First Star this past March recounts disturbing experiences that are common among the more than 700,000 youths who rely on a foster care system that can undermine an already difficult path to a financially secure future.
One urgent concern is identity theft among foster youth. Unfortunately, all of our children are increasingly at risk of identity theft, but our foster youth very seldom have adults to assist them when they need help. Current practices also put these youth at further risk since their personal information, including Social Security numbers and birth certificates, passes through many hands and can fall easily into the wrong ones.
All across the country, young people are leaving foster care only to find their credit records already ruined, preventing them from finding a place to live, getting a job, or obtaining loans for school. In Rhode Island , 21-year-old Dee Saint Franc told the Associated Press that she had her identity stolen, likely by a family member. When she turned 18, she found out she had $3000 worth of unpaid debt at Verizon on her record dating back to 1998, when she was eight years old.
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