Lynnique was one of seven children. Their mother insisted – and the siblings confirmed in mom’s presence – that CYF’s involvement was a misunderstanding because the children were well provided for and safe and the family just needed a housing subsidy. The KidsVoice staff weren’t convinced and after earning 12-year-old Lynnique’s trust learned that her only meals were those provided at school and that it wasn’t uncommon that all seven children would share a can of green beans for dinner. She opened up and shared how her mom was never home, that they never had clothes or food, and hadn’t been to the doctor in over a year. When they were evicted, mom made sure to grab the TV but Lynnique was the one who remembered to ask to get back in to grab bottles and diapers for her baby sister. With these disclosures, before the end of the day, all seven children were removed from mom.
The family blamed Lynnique for no longer being together. She and her older sister went to live with a relative whose boyfriend Lynnique accused of inappropriately touching her. The family didn’t believe her, and labeled her a troublemaker and tattle tale – until Lynnique’s sister became pregnant at 13 following multiple instances of rape by the same man.
Lynnique was placed with a foster family who agreed to provide respite care, but were unwilling to be her long-term caregiver. Lynnique was approaching 13, the same age her mother had her first child and now her sister would too.
The one thing Lynnique had going for her was school. Despite her trauma, abuse, and neglect – and missing so much school – Lynnique maintained good grades and honor roll or higher on every report card. Her KidsVoice team thought that boarding school, while an out-of-the-box longshot, just might be the ticket for Lynnique. Her KidsVoice staff contacted a private school which provides housing and education to at-risk girls, cares for them from age 10 through to 18, and then acts as a “home base” when they go off to college. KidsVoice arranged a tour, which Lynnique loved, and then our staff advocated for her admission, helped Lynnique fill out her paperwork, and transported her to and from interviews and meetings until she was accepted.
The girls in each house eat dinner together, study in groups, and are offered social community opportunities on weekends. Lynnique took advantage of her fresh start at her new school this fall. She is earning good grades, has gained even more confidence in her academic strengths, and now operates under the expectation and assumption that she’ll be going to college – an opportunity foster children rarely experience. Just as importantly, her new school has created or Lynnique a supportive community and family environment that she hasn’t always had.