Kenn is homeless in New Orleans. He survives by playing piano on the streets for money.
Kenn was raised in foster care and lived in 17 different foster home placements. Kenn says he was beaten and tortured every day for decades.
Children are easy victims. But of all children, perhaps none are as vulnerable as foster children. Fear prevents them from complaining about abuse or mistreatment. Abusive adults, or sexual predators, can easily physically, and psychologically, overpower them. Neglectful foster parents can negligently allow harm to befall them.
While almost all foster parents are loving, giving, generous people who should be commended for the charitable social service they provide, it is indisputable that some foster parents abuse, mistreat, neglect or mishandle their foster children.
Ask anyone in child welfare about foster youth aging out of the foster care system and you’re sure to hear about everything from high rates of incarceration, early parenting, homelessness, unemployment and discussion about mental health issues.
• Approximately 400,000 youth are currently in foster care in the United States. Approximately 20,000 of those youth age-out each year without positive familial supports or any family connection at all.
• Within 18 months of emancipation, 40-50% of foster youth become homeless.
• Nationally, 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care.
• A history of foster care correlates with becoming homeless at an earlier age and remaining homeless for a longer period of time.
• 65% of youth leaving foster care need immediate housing upon discharge.
• The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimates that 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year as a result of assault, illness, or suicide.
Kenn says he has PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) as a result of the years of abuse. He cannot stay in one place for long. Kenn has been offered housing but the housing was in a bad area with questionable tenants. He didn’t feel safe. Kenn says the housing offered to him was similar to the foster homes her was abused in.
Kenn only had one wish: to be happy.