Georgia nonprofit addressing mental health stats among children in foster care
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - “I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 18 months old, to teenage parents who were ill-equipped to manage a child with a chronic condition, because of that I entered into the foster care system at 5 years old,” said advocate Micah Kane.
Micah Kane’s childhood was not easy. From the ages of five to eight he lived with nine different families.
Sometimes the moves happen so fast, children will pack all they own in a trash bag. Those experiences take a toll on the mental health of young people in the foster care system.
The American Academy of Pediatrics found that mental and behavioral health was the largest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.
“Approximately 80 percent of youth in the foster care system experience mental illness and that is compared to about 20 percent of the general population,” said Christie Simons, Executive Director of Atlanta Angels.
The website details the layers of trauma children might face in the foster care system, from their relationships or lack of with their biological families to changing schools and homes.
“Moving from one house to the next, from one school to the next, I had no stability,” said Micah, “It really makes you feel like there is something wrong with you.”
Atlanta Angels is trying to combat those statistics and help children in foster care find some kind of stability, as well as the foster families who open their homes.
“What we do is wrap support around foster families and provide mentoring for youth...some of the things that help heal trauma are stability and healthy relationships,” said Christie.
Micah says he wishes he had mentors as a child going through the foster care system. His adoption changed everything for him.
“Whether you say lucky or blessed, I do have a family that loves me,” said Micah.
Now, his story is now focused on other kids who are maneuvering the system, just like he did.
“I wanted to make a difference. I graduated college recently. I am working in this field,” said Micah, “You aren’t a victim of your circumstance, you can become someone who can triumph over all of that.”
“Everyone can do something. You can volunteer, you can mentor, you can be that healthy, stable, consistent adult for these children, youth and families,” said Christie.
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