The juvenile justice system may be a rough time for young folks. I went to a group home, now known as short term residence therapeutic placement (S.T.R.T.P.). I was there from when I was 14 to 16. My biological mother didn’t do her parenting classes so I could go back home, and my biological father wasn’t in the picture. The class that my mom had to complete required her to attend a class once a month for two hours for six months. She couldn’t do that, so my six-month placement turned into two years, which wasn’t normal. The good thing that happened to me during that time was that I wasn’t alone. My former probation officer, who was assigned to me when I was in juvenile hall at 14, was there supporting me every step of the way. I also got to see my maternal grandfather every weekend. I was so happy!

Once two years hit, the executive director of the facility told me I could go to a foster home if I wanted until I turned 18, or I could stay at the group home until I was 18. Initially, I was going to stay at that group home because I had a really bad experience with foster care when I was younger. When I was 3, my former foster mother physically burnt me with a curling iron. Because of that, I was traumatized from foster care. When my biological mother came to visit me and my biological brother, she saw the physical burn marks on my face and arms and threatened to sue the agency if they didn’t release me or my brother. The very next day, my brother and I were released. The foster mother quit, even though that lady didn’t get her license revoked.

Foster care, overall, has never been easy for me. Dealing with trauma, depression and anxiety wasn’t fun. I went to a lot of therapy and had to start taking medication. One of my medications made me so lethargic that all I wanted to do all day was just sleep my days away. But, to my later set of foster parents, that was normal. They saw nothing wrong with me sleeping all day. At my final foster home, I stopped making friends and started isolating myself from my peers because I felt like I was going to move somewhere else again.

Read how Sabrina’s Probation Officer made a difference