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Aging Out
My Story
David Griffin
Risa Bejarano
Daniella Anderson
Keely Lopez
Thomas Hudson

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Bound and Determined
Daniella and Veasna
Daniella and Veasna discuss their living options.

Daniella moved four times in four months, going AWOL again to visit her older sister in Hartford, Connecticut. Although she was offered a job at Citibank, Daniella returned from her sister's house with other plans.

DANIELLA: I was visiting my sister in Hartford and I was coming to the realization that apartments are cheaper. We've been looking for jobs. Both Veasna and I went up, so it was really a good experience just to see what it was like not being in the system.

I just feel like this is a time where I need to just branch out and go on my own because the constant threat of having my son taken away is ridiculous. That causes me so much stress. The system is not providing us with what we need. Right now, Veasna and I need to be together raising Elijah. I plan on leaving. Actually, today I would love to sign some papers to just get myself discharged as far as I'm concerned.

Once Daniella's living arrangement in Hartford was verified, her case was closed. Daniella finally had her wish to live independently. She and Veasna also began planning for a summer wedding. After four months of staying home with Elijah in Hartford, Daniella was back in school at Trinity College with a full scholarship. However, Daniella's family was in financial trouble. Veasna's part-time job didn't cover their expenses and their savings had been completely exhausted. When the family could no longer pay for food or rent, Daniella and Veasna decided to turn to public assistance.

Daniella received an ATM card issued by the government, and the state added $543 to the family's account every month. Daniella also qualified for food stamps and could use her Connecticut ATM card to buy up to $134 worth of groceries every month.

DANIELLA: I felt like it was important for us to make the decision to go the Department of Social Services and ask them for help. I was just eager to leave the system and here I am going to welfare. I feel at times like I failed. If we hadn't gotten help, we'd be up to our necks in credit card bills, trying to use our credit cards to pay rent. I don't think we would have been able to last much longer. It's refreshing to know that we have support. The only thing is I wish that it had come from family instead of a system.
Baby Elijah
Baby son Elijah joins the family.

You have the system trying to be a parent and you can't have like this institution being a parent to kids.
Family history video

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