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.

Let Your Fear Disappear

Let’s be clear

On the topic of fear

Is it the dark

Is it the fact

Everyone thinks you’re a mark

Nobody has your back

When you’re attacked

Living in that home

Wishing everyone would leave you alone

You’re thinking Darwin was right

The pecking order requires you to fight

Again and again

That revolving door seems to never end

The key to success is finding a friend

There is someone around you can trust

This action is a must

Be careful who you pick

Don’t fall for a trick

Look for somebody your own age

Don’t feed in to each other’s rage

The answer is not a gun

The question is

How do you have fun

The more you laugh

The more you smile

The more you reject

The system’s bile

It keeps your heart clean

Which stops you from being mean

It’s not cool to fail

It’s not cool to go to jail

It doesn’t make you tough

It’s just a bunch of fluff

Coming from kids that are confused

Don’t be that muse

I’ll tell you what’s tight

Standing up for what’s right

Have fun and keep your mind clear

And watch your fear disappear

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.