Within seconds of becoming acquainted with Temple University junior Briana Drummer, you get the sense she’s the nurturing type.
But for years, her life was deplete of the tenderness she constantly exudes. The 25-year-old’s mother suffered from bipolar disorder and was deemed unfit to care for her children. Drummer, along with her three brothers, were removed from their mother’s custody when she was just seven years old.
“For the majority of my life, I was in the system — considered government property,” Drummer told Ebony on Tuesday.
She and her brothers were put in the care of an abusive woman who would serve as their foster parent. When Drummer turned 18 years old and moved out of her foster mother’s home, she struggled to transition to the real world because she lacked the parental guidance many children take for granted.
“You don’t have the knowledge a person with a family would like budgeting, cooking, the importance of having good credit and the importance of having education,” Drummer said. “These were the things that were skipped over during the process of being in foster care especially when you’re in a group home or different facilities.”
“When I aged out and went into the real world, I had no clue what to do,” she continued. “I had to figure out everything on my own.”
Shortly after moving out of her foster mother’s house and into a group home, Drummer met a man who would later become her boyfriend. He offered her an escape from living in group home by inviting her to move in with him. But within a year, she’d find herself going from an abusive caretaker to an abusive boyfriend.
But for Drummer, it was an alternative to living in a group home for foster children and worse, being homeless.
In 2014, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch proposed legislation which would reduce federal funding for long-term residency in group homes for foster kids. He claimed young adults in these homes are more vulnerable to sex trafficking, prostitution, peer sex abuse and overuse of psychotropic medications.
A study conducted by the Local Homelessness Research Network found that out of of a sample population of approximately 1,200 foster care kids who were processed out of the system, a quarter of them became homeless.
Turning 18 is a celebratory coming-of-age for many children. But for Drummer, the formal transition to adulthood equated with a choice between settling for a toxic environment and living in the streets. In August, Drummer founded Foster and Homeless Youth, an awareness campaign dedicated to shedding light on the plights of foster children after transitioning out of the system.
“[The org] is inclusive of both foster and homeless youth,” she said. “The two go hand-in-hand.”
“I’m trying to make a foster care network system so that foster care kids can support each other,” she told the Philadelphia Tribune in September. “We know what we go through. Social workers … they try to understand but they’re not in our shoes.”
While attending the Community College of Philadelphia, Drummer realized she was surrounded by peers who shared in the multi-faceted struggle of transitioning out of foster care. While attending the college, she took part in Miss Black Genez, a group for Black female students. The women were encouraged to create a business plan for a nonprofit organization which is where the idea for FAHY was born.
“FAHY was founded to bring awareness to the plights of foster children once they age out of the system,” FAHY’s mission statement reads. “Through the personal stories of former and current foster children as well as interviews with current government officials, FAHY hopes to change the system that’s thwarted the lives of foster and homeless youth.”
By sharing the stories of young people currently or previously in foster care, the campaign aims to change the system that’s adversely affected the lives of millions. Using her own experiences and knowledge gained from the aforementioned conversations with peers, Drummer hopes to influence policies related to foster care by meeting with government officials.
If Drummer raises enough money through FAHY’s GoFundMe campaign, she’s hoping the campaign will evolve into a fully formed nonprofit organization.