Foster Care: A Survival Guide 

If I had five minutes to talk to a kid entering foster care, here’s what I’d say to them. And if I could talk with them every day, I’d go over these things with them again and again. But I can’t. So I wrote them down. Please share. Thanks, Ken

This pocket-guide offers easy tips, which are often overlooked, for success in the foster care system and beyond. Drawing on his past experiences as a system kid, Mr. Marteney, offers insightful advice on how a few simple actions can have a huge impact on a foster child’s experience in the system.

fostercaresurvivalguide

Ken Marteney is a third-generation foster kid from the Los Angeles area, having lived in foster homes, boys’ homes, and group homes. After successfully navigating the system, Ken worked his way around the globe traveling as far east as England and as far west as Hawaii.

He’s a normal guy that just happened to have grown up in extraordinary circumstances. He is passionate about kids not only surviving, but thriving while in foster care.

Ken feels like he’s won the lottery every day. He currently resides in Texas, happily married with three kids.

I Surfed the Ocean of Despair

I was the kind of foster kid that would stand with you till the end if you were my friend.

Even if it meant standing up to someone bigger, we would both get beat up together.

Even if it meant going AWOL to see some family, I would go with you.

When family members let you down, I would be the one to say dude why do you think we’re here.

I was the kid that would introduce you to everyone when you were new.

I was the kid that would always show you around school.

I was also the kid that would incite a riot.

I was one of those kids that was never quiet.

I was one of those kids that had a knack for getting out of jams.

I was one of those kids that was never really sad.

I always figured out a way of having fun.

That’s what got me through the system.

One of my many placements was MacLaren Hall, Los Angeles county’s hell hole. I spent over a year there — and I still have no complaints.

I was in there when the staff could put their hands on you. Give you a little wall to wall counseling.

I saw my fair share of solitary, known as Room One, where you’re stripped down to your underwear with just a mat in an eight by eight room and the bright lights never go out.

My system ride was no picnic.

It was like a wave of violence and dysfunction in an ocean of despair.

I say keep your eyes open, don’t turn your back on that wave. It will crush you.

Paddle out to it and surf it.

Look at it as an adventure.

You’ll come out less beat up in the end.

Albertson

We plotted murder that night

Running away from our cottages ready to fight

Eight thirteen-year olds clutching long metal pipes

What that monster did to that little boy wasn’t right

We gathered in the groves ready to strike

When Albertson popped out of the night

An off duty cop who patrolled with a big flash light

“Boys, where you going with those long metal pipes”

We surrounded Albertson ready to fight

Everyone was ready to go out with a bang that night

All for a boy we didn’t even know

We heard the story and it was go, go, go

It was not the first time… we heard that story before

After that night we wouldn’t hear it anymore

We told Albertson our thoughts and intentions

Albertson turned out to be a true rescue ranger

He rescued hikers day and night

“Boys, if that’s true, it isn’t right

Let me take up your fight

You don’t have to do this alone

Just because he’s head of the home

The decisions you make tonight are for keeps

Please go back to your cottage and go to sleep”

“Okay Albertson, we’ll do it your way”

“Don’t worry boys, if it’s true he will pay”

And pay he did

Albertson rescued all of us that night

Thank you Albertson for taking up our fight