Lost Childhoods

Together, the MAH and C3 created an exhibition that had a significant impact on transition age foster youth and our community.

Here are a few key outcomes of this exhibition:

    • 71,253 visitors experienced the exhibition. Many described the exhibition as “moving” and “life-changing.” 
    • Youth felt empowered to tell their story in partnership with artists and advocates.
      133 C3 members co-created Lost Childhoods:

      • 74 current/former foster youth
      • 55 foster youth advocates
      • 4 artists
    • Local and National Media highlighted the issues and resilience of foster youth.
      See highlighted articles below, or check out this radio piece by KQED: What’s Foster Care Like? Learn From the Kids Who Lived Through It.
    • Regional policymakers engaged with the issue and the youth involved.  Youth met with the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, Santa Cruz City Council, the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, and regional Child Welfare workers and social workers to share their stories and explore the Lost Childhoods exhibition together. 
    • Foster youth had opportunities to build and share their skills during and after the project was over. Youth were paid to participate in the project as exhibition designers, curators, and event producers. At least eight youth received paid internships or job offers after the project from the MAH and other project partners. 
    • Over 355 visitors responded to the call to action and took action to support youth. 
      There were 40 tiny yellow action cards in the exhibition. Every action supported foster youth in some way: bake a cake, hire a youth, share your money managing skills. Here  are some notable actions:

      • 15+ visitors became CASA volunteers
      • 15+ bikes were donated
      • 8 visitors baked birthday cakes
      • 2 visitors rented a room in their homes to youth
      • 3 visitors provided lodging during college holiday breaks
      • 110 warm jackets were donated
      • 100 socks were given
      • 4 visitors helped youth develop job interview skills

“Our youth have felt heard, supported, and empowered to share their story through this important work”.-  C3 Advocate, Shandra Gill, Encompass Transition Youth Services  

“From day one foster youth were brought to the forefront of every idea, every art piece, the setup of the exhibit; everything. To again put it simply, “Lost Childhoods” is an exhibit by, of, from, and for Foster Youth; y’all are just lucky enough to enjoy it.” –  C3 Youth, Jess Prudent 

“You have obviously created a groundbreaking movement focused on the heartbreak called “foster care. MAH is truly a game changer for exhibiting Lost Childhoods. Keep up the momentum” – C3 Advocate, Cynthia Jordan, Director of New Families

Last week, we held one of our orientation meetings for folks interested in becoming foster parents.  I always open these meetings by asking where/how people heard about us. And… one family’s answer was that they became inspired after seeing  the Lost Childhoods exhibit – and decided to step up to be part of the solution. Thanks so much for all your tireless work to make Lost Childhoods more than “just” an exhibit!” – C3 Advocate, Trevor Davis, Family and Children Services of Santa Cruz County

I visited your Lost Childhoods exhibit in August. I was incredibly moved & inspired by the exhibit. Upon exiting, you have the rack of business cards/action items. I took the card of an organization called “cake4kids.” I contacted them the next day and have now created a volunteer event for me and my coworkers on 12/9 – *to bake 300 cupcakes for a holiday party for foster kids & recently-adopted foster kids.* I just wanted to let you know that you are inspiring people to do good things – and I thank you for lighting a fire in me.” – MAH Member, Jennifer Matlock

Witnessing the exhibit and how the local community has come together to address and support the youth in foster care is a true embodiment of what trauma informed looks like. The local agencies and community of Santa Cruz came together to create a safe space to experience the museum exhibit and they also developed community action cards for opportunities to heal together” – Anh Ta, Trauma Transformed


Santa Cruz Sentinel, MAH steps into social activism with new exhibit on young people of foster care

Good Times,  Art Exhibit Offers Window into Foster Care System

Santa Cruz Patch, Exhibit Examines Lives Of Local Foster Youth

Santa Cruz Sentinel,  Santa Cruz County Targets Homelessness

Santa Cruz Waves, Foster Youth Exhibit Aims for Action

KQED Arts, What’s Foster Care Like? Learn From the Kids Who Lived Through It.

LA Times, Museum exhibitions where photos tell the story

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Former foster youth share stories of resiliency

KSBW Action News 8, “Lost Childhoods” Exhibit in Santa Cruz gives insight into foster care experience

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Coast Line: Museum of Art & History screens film on adoption

Santa Cruz Sentinel, Coast Line: Santa Cruz County supervisors plan special meeting on Friday

County of Santa Cruz Press Release, Exhibit Examines Lives of Local Foster Youths

Trauma Transformed, New Museum of Art and History Exhibit: Lost Childhoods

Times Publishing Group, Lost Childhoods Exhibition

Art Geek, Lost Childhoods