062: Start at the Root Cause — Part 1 of 3 — Garbage Bag Suitcase with Shenandoah Chefalo

No one comes into foster care because of a pleasant situation.

Shenandoah Chefalo is the author of Garbage Bag Suitcase, a memoir of Shenandoah’s very difficult childhood growing up in foster care. Shenandoah wrote the book to bring attention to a, frankly, very poorly supported cause. Did you know out of 1.6 million incarcerated people , roughly 80% of them grew up in foster care? This is part one of a three-part interview underlining the main problems traditional foster care systems are unable to solve and what we can do about it.

Key Takeaways:

[3:55] Rob had to put Shenandoah’s memoir down because it was eye-opening and painful.

[4:50] Shenandoah didn’t want to write about her hardships; she wanted to write about something that started a conversation as to why you should care about foster children.

[7:15] Child welfare in the United States is a unique problem because each state has its own rules.

[12:20] Good foster homes provide food, clothing, and shelter, but they often lack love and support.

[17:30] Less than 3% of foster children will go to college and even fewer than that will receive a college degree.

[19:10] Lack of education rolls over into other statistics, like incarceration rates.

[19:20] 1.6 million people are incarcerated in the United States, but did you know 1.2 million of them are former foster children?

[19:40] No matter how caring you are, no one wants to pay for prisoners. So, we should tackle the core problem head on.

[21:00] Shenandoah has been homeless a number of times throughout her life.

[29:00] No one comes into foster care because of a pleasant situation.

[29:10] What can we do to help?

[30:20] Most of us care about causes like addiction, homelessness, and teen pregnancy. However, the foster care system is producing most of the people you see in these other causes.

[38:25] Most foster parents do not undergo important training that helps a foster child cope with the traumatic events that have happened to them.

[45:00] On top of it all, there are big myths about foster kids, like they’re unhealthy, have some disability, or they are ‘bad children’ and that’s the reason why they were given up/unwanted in the first place.

[49:20] Want to help? Educate yourself about the foster care system first.

[56:35] There are enough people out there who want to knock you down and tell you you’re not good enough. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be that way too.

[1:00:20] Despite all odds, Shenandoah stuck with her dreams and achieved them.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Giving Back Podcast

Garbage Bag Suitcase






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