Monique: Forgotten Youth – Children With Disabilities in Foster Care
The Aseltine Experience
Before Aseltine, Monique was in and out of group homes and mental hospitals. She “lashed out at people (biting, hitting, kicking) who didn’t even do anything but try and help me.” At Aseltine, Monique found the acceptance and understanding she had missed at other schools. A letter Monique wrote about Aseltine’s impact on her life demonstrates the strong community at Aseltine; she thanked the staff members who shaped her life and made her feel welcome. They included “the usual suspects,” such as her former teacher (“who taught me how to open up and trust people”), classroom aides (“who made me realize how my actions affected others” and “who always pushed me to do better in life situations”) and support staff (“who listened to me no matter what it was and who helped my family as well as me”). She also thanked traditional office staff members like the Chief Financial Officer (“who always had a smile for me no matter what”) and former Executive Director (“who kept me in line until I was able to do it myself”), who went beyond their job descriptions to provide students with the school’s uncommon commitment to students and families.
With this comprehensive system of support, Monique was able to learn far more than just academics:
“What I learned at Aseltine was to not let the negative things rule my life; to never give up no matter what is going on; to make the right friends who you can trust; to let people help me when I need it, and to respect myself and others who are around me.”
Monique went on to earn her diploma and now attends college, and mentors children in a YMCA before—and after-school program. She credits her incredible transformation to her time here: “Aseltine was a turning point in my life, and if I didn’t go there I would not be the person I am now.”
Monique is in college working toward her goal to work in Special Education. She no longer places a burden on the community; more importantly, she is making positive contributions to it and is helping other young people learn to do the same.
Learn more about children with disabilities in foster care
On any given day, there are more than half a million children and youth in foster care in the United States, and studies suggest that at least one-third have disabilities, ranging from minor developmental delays to significant mental and physical disabilities.