Lacey Henry, a recent college graduate from CEU could be a poster child for ambition and the determination required to better yourself. What makes her story so special is that Henry was in the Utah Foster Care System for four years.
At 14, she was placed with her first foster family, a single mother with no other children. After some time a foster sister was placed in the woman’s care as well. Living in that home for a year was difficult for Henry.
“It was very strict, I couldn’t do much. It wasn’t even in the plans for me to ever get my license,” Henry said. It was during that time that she decided to become involved with cross-country as a way of having time to herself. She also became involved with the foster care program in the state.
After a situation arose, forcing her foster mother to move, she was placed in a home in Ferron. It was at this house is where her life turned into something positive. Living in a two parent home with four siblings, Henry was opened up to new possibilities. It was there that college was first talked about. “At 15 I never thought about college and they started talking about it. I’m in a lot better situation than I was,” she said.
“I have a strong desire to better my situation, I want to pursue something in the medical field because I want to help people,” Henry said.
That family allowed her to be like any other teen. She was able to start working so she had her own money. She received her license and currently has her own car. She was able to hang out with friends. All of these things were done in an effort to make her life easier and live like any other child would. “I think if you pull the reigns then children will end up rebeling, but if you give them freedom as they go along things will turn out better,” she said.
Kobi Marchello, area representative with the Utah Foster Care Foundation said, “I think that it is smart for foster parents to allow the children to act like normal kids. There is a fine balance between keeping them safe but giving enough freedom.”
Being involved with the foster care program, Henry was able to attend several conferences as well as one in Washington D.C.
“It was awesome, in every state the rules are very different and it was interesting to compare notes with other kids,” she said.
One thing that set Henry apart from other foster children is the desire to make the most of her situation that she possesses. “Make the most of your situation, you can’t always be sad or down on yourself. In the end you will benefit from it,” she said.
“Instead of seeing it as negative she really got involved and took everything she could from the experience. She has been doing really well on her own getting things like an apartment and car. She works to support herself. She received a scholarship for her grades and FAFSA from the government,” Marchello said.
All isn’t roses and rainbows in foster care though. Transitioning between homes can be very stressful for all involved. Having parents who are strict and don’t allow children to act like normal kids can take its toll too. Henry was lucky in the sense that she moved from Carbon to Emery county but the reality is that there are not enough foster parents in Castle Country to take care of the need that is there. Older children tend to move around more than the younger ones do. In high school that can be detrimental to to the kids. “A lot of kids age out (turn 18) and end up pregnant or in trouble,” Henry concluded. A drive to better yourself is necessary to the successful completion of school and the program, according to Henry.
“There are a variety of foster kids, the more stable their environment is affects how they will come out,” Marchello concluded.