How Prevention Services Could Help Youth Avoid the Foster Care System

Nico'Lee Biddle, Teen Vogue •

When I look back now on my family’s experiences, I realize that the child welfare system only saw our family’s trauma and hurt, our dysfunction and abnormalities. They didn’t see parents who raised me for fourteen years, who taught me the values of honesty, education, humor, and compassion. They didn’t see that my family had lost our two biggest supporters within the prior three years; including my grandmother, who died from Leukemia mere months before I was taken into the system. The system only saw a missed appointment, or a positive drug test, and seemed to assume the worst about our lives. The system removed me first, and provided services second — after the trust was broken and the damage was done.

Fostered or Forgotten is a Teen Vogue series about the foster care system in the United States, produced in partnership with Juvenile Law Center and published throughout National Foster Care Month. In this op-ed, Nico’Lee Biddle, an LCSW, trauma therapist and freelance speaker, explains how her family’s foster care journey may have been different if prevention services were offered before she was removed from her home.