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Louis as the Tin Man
7.26.02
Society and Community:
The Last Hope
More on This Story:
Inside Foster Care: Stories

The number of kids in the foster care system has doubled in the last decade. Meet some of those kids in that troubled system and some valiant people doing their best to help them in NOW's piece "The Last Hope" filmed at the residential treatment center of Children's Village in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

Listen to a few of the stories of foster kids, former foster kids, and those working with them at Children's Village below. For more information on the child welfare system, visit our facts and resources page.

Louis
Louis
Louis has been at Children's Village for nearly a year and a half. Before that he traveled a long road — he lived with several foster families and says he spent time in at least one psychiatric hospital.

In this clip, 16 year old Louis faces the hard reality of being an aging foster child. In an inverse relationship, the older you get, the less chance there is for adoption. Therefore, trying to free himself from the system, Louis sets lofty goals. The short-term goal: a group home. The long-term goal: independent living.

Shawn
Shawn:

Shawn has been here for nearly eight years longer than most. Removed from his parents' custody when he was very young, he has little contact with his mother... Shawn lives with 15 other boys in one of 22 houses on the grounds at Children's Village... Each house is supervised at all times by two adult child-care workers.

"It' s hard for me to accept the fact of being in confinement. That's what I call this. You know, it's like a jail with no walls and no gates and nothing. So, kind of, it gets to you, 'cause you got to be here against your own will. But you might as well make the best of the situation. You know." --Shawn
For years Shawn was without a father. Recently reunited, Shawn and his father, Louis, are beginning to forge a new relationship.

Gemini -- by Shawn
Gemini:

Shawn wants to go into graphic arts. He drew this image of Gemini — his astrological sign — showing the two sides of his experience of life, pain and pleasure.

Close relationships develop during residential care. Here, 16 year-old Shawn describes an art piece devoted to his best friend who committed suicide. It is aptly entitled "No More Pain." Art has proven to be an invaluable part of Shawn's therapy, an outlet for pent up emotion.

The Reader


The Reader:
Children's Village also has a public middle and an elementary school. All the schools have small, special ed classes tailored to the individual needs of the students. In the fifth grade classroom, writing stories had become an integral part of the children's education. Some of the stories can be heartbreaking — others uplifting.

"We explain to them that education's the only thing nobody can ever take away from you. Everything else you can move. Nobody can take your knowledge away from you." --Jennifer Sikoryak, Children's Village Lead Teacher



Aron Myers


Aron Myers:
Aron Myers, now 31, is an alumnus of Children's Village. With a master's in social work he's returned here to care for children whose stories he knows all too well. When he lived at Children's Village Myers took part in the WAY — an ongoing work experience program.
"What we have not done is made the real investment. We, you know, we come short, and what's interesting is, we know what it takes. I mean, there's tons of studies out there that says, "We know how much staffing is really needed. We know what the quality of social work. We know that social workers should have low case loads, so they could do intensive work. You know. We are a very smart society. And we've done the work." --Aron Myers



Jennifer Sikoryak, teacher
Jennifer Sikoryak:
Jennifer Sikoryak is the lead teacher of the public elementary school at Children's Village. She helps the teachers deal with the educational and emotional needs of her students daily.
In just my nine years, I'm not exaggerating when I say, I've had at least five students who have had their parents murdered. The majority of them witnessed it.... How are you supposed to focus on state tests and competing with everybody else and say, "Well, gee, this makes my life, whether I pass this test and do well or not." -- Jennifer Sikoryak




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