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2 young Sacramento adults talk difficulties of growing up as foster kids

Moving home to home, school to school takes toll on Sacramento area foster kids
Moving home to home, school to school takes toll on Sacramento area foster kids 03:08

SACRAMENTO - Imagine being a foster kid, moving from home to home and school to school. Thousands of foster youth in California go through this painful process.

Jesus Gonzalez is a high school senior in Sacramento. The soft-spoken 18-year-old has been in foster care most of his life.

"I was in foster care when I was six months old but moved back with my mom when I was four, but due to some struggles, I went back when I was eight years old," Gonzalez said.

Since then, life has never been steady.

"In all honesty, in one home for about two years then would move to a different one which the cycle would start all over," Gonzalez said.

He is among the more than 43,000 kids currently in California's foster care system.

Studies show foster kids between the ages of 11 and 15, many of them already traumatized, moved at least four times from foster homes with little time to pack

"They gave me four boxes to put my stuff and told me to put the rest of my stuff into trash bags to get rid of some clothes and give them to Goodwill," Gonzalez said.

The constant moving usually means enrolling in new schools.

"That first year, freshmen year when I did have to move was probably one of the worst times of my life," said Desiree Patterson, a Sacramento State student.

Patterson, 22, has sad memories of growing up in foster care.

"They had their own biological children. And that was really hard for me to experience especially just watching them be a family and I'm off the sidelines," Patterson said.

Jumping from home to home took a toll on her.

"They didn't give me a trash bag, they didn't give me a suitcase, they gave me absolutely nothing. I wasn't able to take anything," she said.

"My social worker wouldn't let me go back into the home to retrieve any of my items, not my cat, anything," Patterson said.

At one point she was homeless. She now lives on her own and attends Sacramento State where she's studying social work.

She's come a long way working as a mentor at California Youth Connection, a youth-based organization that supports foster kids.

"I think being in foster care is a big part of my identity and making sure that those youth who could potentially fall between the cracks or who have fallen between are able to have the support they need, and the resources that they need, so I'm very big on my community," Patterson said.

For most kids in foster care, having their own personal luggage can make a difference.

That's why CBS13 and Good Day have teamed up with the Myndz Resources Foundation and the She Ready Foundation to collect new travel-size luggage for foster youth in our region.

We're taking part in the foster youth luggage drive and fundraiser next Wednesday at Cal Expo. You can drop off a donation between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

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