Moving to a Different School Because of Foster Care
Reflections by and for Young People in Care

We asked young people in foster care, “Did you ever have to switch schools because you were in foster care? What was that like? What did you or other people do that made switching schools easier?“ Here’s what they had to say.

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First Place

Haley, age 17

One of the hardest of the many challenges I have faced was transferring schools. I was just starting my second semester of sophomore year. I had just gotten used to calling that place home. Then one day my life was uprooted. I went from being in a decent-sized city to a small town. The change was drastic and overwhelming: I went from a school that was so big you could hide from your problems, to a school that was so small everyone knew everything about everybody.

Yet I was the new girl. The girl who was emotionally distraught. I was afraid and felt empty. The only way I really communicated was when I would write or sing. I didn’t know how to fit in. . . .

[But] I learned so much from this transition: respect, value, honor, love, integrity, dignity. These things have helped to mold me into the strong and motivational figure I try to be in others’ lives. Most kids are embarrassed to say they are a product of the system. Not me! In fact, I couldn’t be prouder. It’s changed my whole outlook on life. I now know who I am and who I was meant to be.

Yeah, the transition was hard, but the relationships I have been able to create have helped me to succeed and grow stronger in a positive manner. I am not a failure because I moved schools so many times. I am not a loser because I am a foster kid. I am a strong and dignified young woman with a dream to show others that they are incredible and they will make it!

Haley received $100 for taking top prize in the writing contest.

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Second Place

Alesia, age 10

I switched schools in second, third, and fourth grades. It was sad because I had to lose all my friends and my math and reading teachers. These teachers were my favorite . . . . It was not fun at all. Switching to all of these schools was very exhausting.

What made switching schools easier? Other people helped me with things I didn’t know, like catching up on division, multiplication, and reading. Also, I spoke with my school counselors. I talked to them about how I transitioned to different schools and houses. . . .

Also, I am about to get adopted. I feel fantastic about it because I will no longer have to switch schools!

Alesia received $50 for taking second prize in the writing contest.

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Third Place

Kairi, age 11

I did have to change learning facilities because of foster care. . . . I was excited (but a little nervous) when I went into the building to meet my teacher, Mrs. Ross. When school started and I actually had to meet the other kids in my class, I felt like I was going to scream with anxiety! It helps that I am not shy at all and that I am a big-time people person. Within an hour, I was already best friends forever with the two girls at my table, Eva and Summer.

It felt like my teacher was helping me (but I knew she was not) with homework. All she gave us was reading, and I love, love, love reading!

It also helped that the fourth graders got to take a field trip to the Fair—not to ride rides, but to learn about North Carolina. It was really fun!!!

Eva and Summer really made it easier by being with me to show me around the school. They were the best friends anyone can ever have! Now, I am not saying that I did not make any other friends, but Eva and Summer stayed with me even when the going got tough. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true!

Kairi received $25 for taking third prize in the writing contest.

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More on Switching Schools

I’m 12 years old and . . . . I’ve been to nine schools. It was hard being at new schools. It was hard making new friends and talking to people and trying to fit in. Some people have known what I’ve been through and they try to help. — Heaven, age 12

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It was hard to fit in. [But Angela] talked to me and we became best friends . . . .
She is someone I can talk to. Words that describe her are sweet, funny, silly, goofy, smart, crazy, cool, loving, caring, friendly, generous, confident, and a hard worker. — Tiffany, age 15

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The experience was scary and nerve-wracking because I was always bullied at every school I went to and never had any friends. I was looked at as “weird.” I would never talk because I felt out of place because I had to keep going from school to school dealing with the same types of mean-hearted kids. I honestly felt that the only way to keep from making my situations worse was to not say anything to anybody. . . . Luckily I had a caring social worker. She took us shopping [and we] got our nails done together. She came by the school every once in a while to check on me and my sister. . . .

As time went on I felt much more confident and I made straight A’s because I was focused and I didn’t let those mean-hearted kids get to me. — Gabriella, age 17


These young people received $20 for having their essays published.

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