Foster Youth Museum began over eleven years ago as a new training tool to help educate child welfare professionals on what the needs of foster youth were. Since then, the Museum has grown from a simple tabletop display of donated artifacts to a large scale endeavor with multiple exhibitions–our signature being Lost Childhoods.
Lost Childhoods delves into the tremendous impact youth experience in and out of foster care and the title was meant to instantly convey the impact foster care can and does have. Visitors see what youth experience prior to entering the system, what happens during their time in care, and what happens when they emancipate or age out as teens and young adults. The exhibition, divided into five themes: Developmental Disruption, Institutionalization, Powerlessness, Loss, and Hope and Transformation, takes visitors through the experience from the perspective of foster youth.
While it was important for us to represent the trauma, loss and disruption foster care and being removed from home can have on youth, it was just as important to us to show what has helped youth overcome these tragedies in their lives. The Hope and Transformation section is the largest of the five themes and the artifacts and photographs show how positive relationships, advocacy, education, travel and other opportunities have played vital roles in the stories of foster youth resiliency.
Youth tell us that, to them, Foster Youth Museum, is a vessel for healing. We take this responsibility seriously and work hard to tell the story of foster care from a youth’s perspective, with dignity, respect and honor. This year, Foster Youth Museum is honored to be working with the Creative Community Committee (C3) to bring Lost Childhoods to the Santa Cruz MAH and excited for even more stories, particularly of Santa Cruz youth, to be shared with the community!