Life was not always easy in my birth family's home; I was often not given enough food to eat, and for discipline, was made to stand on a chair for hours on end. I remember as a child being locked in the garage at night and lighting candles in attempt to keep warm. At the age of 12, I began to run away from home to avoid the abuse and neglect that had become apart of my daily life. At 15, the streets became my home and the other youth on the streets my family.
Some time after turning 16, and after getting into some trouble with the law, I was introduced to a couple who did prison ministry. They attempted to help me by finding families I could live with, and at one point, allowing me to come and live with them; eventually they became my legal guardian. Though living with different families was hard because I didn't know how to be part of a normal family, I faired probably better than some because it provided a roof over my head for a time. At the age of 18 I moved out on my own into a rooming house with lots of cockroaches because it was all I could afford -- feeling totally unprepared for life alone as I lacked the life skills that were needed. Though living with different families was a struggle, having a place of my own made me feel very isolated as I had been used to life on the streets where there was often people around you all the time. I however was probably one the lucky ones; I was able to get work doing landscaping and was able to pay rent. Times are different now a days and the cost of living is a lot higher. It is also a lot harder for youth to get jobs and often they have to be over 18, or need more education than I did when I was a teen.
Even though getting a job might have been a little easier when I was a teen, the constant struggle to make enough money to be able to pay rent and for food was always there. Unfortunately youth without family support or CAS as their legal guardian can often go forgotten. Financial support, budgeting classes, and life skills along with workers who can check in on youth is essential for keeping kids from going homeless and ending up on the streets.