Awful for some, a gift for others
When children have to be taken away from bad home situations and don’t have the option to live with stable family members, they are typically placed into group homes or foster care to ensure that they are safe and cared for. While some children find that their new home situations are far more pleasent than what they came from, not every caretaker is as caring as they should be. People that spent some time or their entire childhoods in these situations have reported a wide range of experiences.
It may have saved them from lives of crime and addiction, and others were horribly scarred by their time in the system. Here are the real stories about what happens in group homes from those who experienced them.
I lived in a non-profit transitional living program. I was 17 at the time and lived with nine other boys and 10 girls all ranging between the ages of 6-17. Things were rowdy and everything was heavily scheduled. I still had the freedom to get a snack or watch TV whenever I wanted though.
Every Friday night we had a big group outing like bowling or going out to see a movie. Depending on your situation, you were also allowed to be “signed out” by a guardian or friend and leave for a few hours.
At a certain point, they decided to move me into their other program for older kids. This time the boys and girls had their own side of a huge townhouse with an RA available all times of the day. They helped us finish school, get a job, open a banking account (we were only allowed to keep 20% of our paychecks, everything else had to be put into our own savings account), apply for college if we wanted to go that route, get your driver’s license. Basically all of the life skills you would normally learn from a stable family life.
We also had to see a therapist weekly and you would meet with your assigned RA/life coach, just to make sure things were good. You were never ignored and we always had support whenever we needed. (DrunkenMcNugget)
Boys and girls were separated, so I didn’t see my younger brother often. A very weird thing that still has an effect on me 17 years later is during meals, if you ate too fast, you were teased and mocked endlessly by the other kids. So you always had to time yourself to not finish first. Now I still eat super slowly.
I just remember it being very lonely. You weren’t cared about as an individual. (Kitty_D)
It was interesting in some ways, and I honestly enjoyed the camaraderie. Also, it was nice to always have three wholesome meals per day. They gave me a lot of time to study.
On the downside, I did not like the drama that just inherently existed when you had people from tough backgrounds all together – they just tended to handle things poorly. I once got into a confrontation and had a glass decoration thrown at my head. It hit the person behind me and gashed that person’s eyebrow open. (nobawdy)