Student seeks to educate

By
February 12, 2004

Mills College Weekly

While Georgette Todd was living in a group home as a teenager,
she dreamed of getting an education that would enable her to
advocate for foster children like herself.

On Feb. 3, Todd, now a Mills grad student, visited six Dist.
Nine Assemblypersons in Sacramento to lobby for AB 1858, a bill to
reform group home schools for foster children. The bill seeks to
establish the same standards of performance for the schools at
group homes that public schools are held to, such as hiring
credentialed teachers, offering college prep courses and electives,
and extracurricular activities, and providing necessary materials
such as books, with more frequent state inspections. There are 400
group homes in California, attended by about 4,000 children.

Todd was one of eight advocates with the Alameda chapter of
California Youth Connection, a statewide non-profit that fights for
the rights of current and former foster youth.

“I’d like to find ways to use public broadcasting in order to
not lecture but educate the masses on parentless children and
teenagers and how it affects everyone. These are just a few goals
for starters,” Todd said.

She is an MFA student in creative non-fiction writing, and is
editing her memoir of her experience as a foster child from the
ages of 14 to 16, Plastic Spoon, with the object of getting it
published. Todd said about her story, “It’s a subculture that many
people don’t know about, yet it affects all of us. For example, 40%
of the homeless are former foster children.”

At 16, Todd and her sister ended their group home nightmare when
they were taken in by a caring family until they were able to
graduate from high school. “It was education that saved me,” Todd
said of her teen years, “the stability of a good foster home, and
public education, finally. The group home schools were terrible-no
books, no paper, all ages crammed together.” She graduated in May
2003 from CSU Sacramento with a B.A. in Journalism and in
English.

Todd wants to make a career of advocating for improvement of the
foster care system.

“Basically, with the way the system is geared, foster children
are paying for the crimes their parents committed. Once the state
deems the parent unfit or the parents die or are incarcerated,
foster youth are forced to live in institutions with strangers,
thus becoming wards of state,” said Todd.

“From there shifted to one place after another, after another
and another. My book addresses all this, but in pure literary
form.”

She has trained as a counselor of foster youth, and earned a
certificate as a court appointed foster child advocate. She has
applied for a summer internship in Washington, D.C. with Foster
Youth Public Service Program, to work in a federal agency.


Student seeks to educate was published on February 12, 2004 in Features

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