Tonight's special guest is Valarie Anthony from Arlington, Texas, a foster care alumna and survivor of child abuse and neglect. Valerie says, "I am a masters-level professional who is trained in the field of human services. I am also a blogger and author of fiction and nonfiction books." Valerie has over 30 years of experience providing counseling and case management services to individuals, groups, youth and families. "I entered the New York City foster care system when I was three years old and “aged out” of the system at the age of twenty-one, just a few months before I graduated from college." For eighteen years, I lived in over twelve foster homes and two foster group homes. At the age of seventeen, she disclosed to her foster care caseworker the physical and sexual abuse she'd endured for the previous nine years at the hands of her grand uncle, her state-certified foster father. "I was bruised from head to toe and my neck revealed evidence where my uncle tried to kill me," Valarie says. But rather than providing protection and compassion, the caseworker documented that he didn't believe her story that she was being abused. Eventually the abuse allegations were substantiated, but, she explains, "the caseworker stated that I deserved to be beaten. This statement was not only re-traumatizing for me, but said a lot about the caseworker’s lack of training." Valarie was approaching her college graduation when she was notified by phone that she "was no longer the responsibility of the state of New York." A year after leaving the foster care system, she began her career in human services and became interested in what was going on in the child welfare system.
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