Pay it Forward icon 1Pay It Forward

Johnathan Hemphilljohnathan


A young girl sits with her father for the final time. A single parent with no other living relatives, the emaciated man raises his head to address her. As their eyes meet he grasps her weakly and gives her a hug and gently says to her: “I love you.” She meets these words with acceptance, as she always had, but also with confusion, as everything about him had changed. From the mighty figure with piercing eyes and a hearty grin, to a withered man, he could only give her a faint, weary smile. She does not understand what is going on but feels sheer sadness overflowing in the room and she cries tears of confusion, sadness, and fear. He passes the next day.

There is one thing this youth has in common with 670,000 youth around the country.1 She now lacks a suitable parental figure. She needs a new home, new parents, and a new family; needs which are in high demand but scarce supply nationwide. In addition, with social workers often overloaded with caseload ratios as high as 1 to 24, the foster care system may be ill-equipped to handle situations like hers, as she will need extra support and counsel to help cope with her trauma.

The foster care system needs more people of open minds, with compassion, patience, determination, commitment, and willingness to grow. With that in mind, I pose to the reader: Who better than yourself? You picked up this newspaper to be informed on foster care issues. You have the compassion to read and hear youth voices, you have the will and determination to make change, and you are in the greatest position to do something about it. If not you, then who? If not now, then when? Be the one to make a change now, pay it forward. Become a foster parent.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, go to:

1Children’s Rights: 2017. webpage. 24 August 2017.

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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.