( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Former Foster Care Youth Charell Star Explains the Importance of Foster Care Awareness in Interview
ENSPIRE Contributor: Amitha Bhat
Charell Star, a former foster care youth, helps children in the foster care system through her positions on the board of CASA NYC and City Living NY. She strongly believes in spreading foster care awareness and helping foster children. With everyone upset by the COVID-19 outbreak, Charell took the initiative to start the “My Good Newscast” in which she brings positive occurrences around the world to light. In an interview with Charell, she discusses her Newscast and Foster Care Awareness.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m the Director of Content + Innovation for an advertising agency in NYC and also freelance as on-air host + correspondent covering style, tech and trends.
What improvements do you think we need to make to the foster care system?
There are so many improvements we need to make to the foster care system. The first is changing perceptions around how youth end up in care. People assume that youth end up in care because they have done something wrong which is incorrect. Youth end up in care because of abuse or neglect, meaning something bad happened to them or around them due to no fault of their own. Another area we need to improve is listening to youth within the system more and trusting what they have to say. They’re the ones closest to the breakdowns in the system and can focus leaders on areas that need to be changed immediately. Additionally, we need to reevaluate the broad use of the term “neglect” to justify removing youth from homes and which communities overwhelmingly are being negatively impacted by it.
As a former foster care youth yourself, what do you believe that these children need the most?
As a former foster care youth, I think children and youth need people to actually listen and care more than anything. They need people who believe that the most vulnerable among us deserve to have people in their corner who will speak up for them and fight for them. That’s what every child – foster kid or not – deserves.
How is the pandemic affecting them? What can we do to help?
The pandemic is impacting everyone but it is impacting foster care youth in extreme ways. Right now, youth are “aging out” across the country and ending up homeless on the street with no place to go and no chance of finding a job while the crisis rages on. Nine states (RI, AK, IL, CA, GA, OH, CT, MI, SC) plus Washington, D.C. have issued temporary halts on foster youth aging out of the system during the pandemic which is great. But the majority of states (41 states) are allowing thousands of youth to leave the system with no place to go. They need people to help stop this. Call, text, tweet, DM your governors and legislators and tell them to pause aging out for foster youth for at least as long as the COVID crisis continues. Also, foster care support organizations like CASA-NYC and City Living are facing potential shortages of volunteers and/or program funding. Sign up to volunteer to help youth in your area (there are 900 CASA chapters across the country) or make a donation on their website to help them continue to support foster care youth.
As a board member of City Living NY and CASA-NYC, how are you helping foster care youth?
As a board member of the non-profits City Living NY and CASA-NYC, I advocate fiercely for foster care youth alongside all the incredible board volunteers. We work hard to bring awareness to the needs of youth as well as raise money for the organization’s resource programs.
What inspired you to create “My Good Newscast?”My IGTV show, “My Good Newscast” was literally inspired by my frustration with the seemingly never ending negative news cycle. I just knew that there were good things happening in the world and I wanted to share those types of stories.
What types of things do you talk about in My Good Newscast? Any specific highlights?
On the show, I talk about the good things that people are doing across the country that give people hope. I’ve covered stories such as the one on parents raising money to thank the custodial staff in their school district who are working overtime to clean and disinfect the buildings for when kids return. I’ve covered stories on celebrities doing virtual storytime for kids and small business owners literally pulling money off their walls to keep their staff paid during the COVID 19 crisis. I want people to walk away smiling and feeling optimistic after watching, “My Good Newscast.”
How do you believe “My Good Newscast” is helping viewers?
I believe “My Good Newcast” is helping viewers by reminding them that there is still good happening around them and with even a small act of kindness they can create good for others.
What would you like to say about positivity during this time?
This is a hard time for so many people. So it is especially important to be kind to each other, help wherever we can, and spread positive energy as much as possible.
What should we be doing for Foster Care Awareness Month?Foster Care Awareness Month is in May but you can help foster youth throughout the year by volunteering or donating to incredible organizations like CASA-NYC and City Living NY.
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