Graduate student Jessennya Hernandez was recently published in the journal Humanity & Society. Abstract:
This paper explores the grounded realities of how foster youth attempt to improve their own lives by navigating the foster care system. From 2014 to 2016 in southern California, I conducted life history interviews with eight foster youth; interviewed two legal representatives; administered questionnaires to two social workers; and conducted participant observation. Referencing the California Foster Care Bill of Rights and deploying the legal mobilization model, interviews with foster youth focused on their perceptions about rights and how they seek redress for violations to their rights. Their experiences expose the system’s preoccupation with bureaucratic procedures, rather than teaching or acknowledging specific or written rights. Interlocutors aggregately experienced forty rights violations, variously responding with the following modes of action: Doing nothing; Non-Legal action; and Formal-Legal action. In all instances, their knowledge (or lack thereof) about their rights and the foster care system critically informed their actions and revealed their awareness of the power dynamics within the system. This case study centers foster youth perspectives and narratives which are important for identifying effective alternatives that ensure foster youth rights, mobilization for when rights are violated, and ultimately center their voices and power.