Former foster child uses her experience to help others

AUSTIN -- A push is underway to give a voice to the nation's children in foster care. One Central Texas woman who graduated out of the system is helping launch a program that changes the way those kids are helped.

Courtney Jones knows what it's like to bounce from one home to another. At eight-years-old she went into foster care. She stayed there until she emancipated out at 18. For 10 years she struggled.

"I ran away a lot. Sometimes I ran away because I didn't like the home that I was in. Sometimes I ran away because there were too many young ladies in the home," explained Jones.

She acted out. It was the only control she had.

"I felt like if you're not going to listen to me I can show you better than I can tell you," said Jones.

She's not the only one. According to national statistics, thousands of children enter the foster care system each year. Studies show most want to go to college and make a life of their own, but only two percent ever do. Courtney fought to be part of that two percent. Now, with a master's degree, she's helping those going through what she went through.

"There are a lot of stereotypes and myths when it comes to who foster youth are. Most kids who enter the foster care system have been abused and neglected at no fault of their own," said Jones.

She's launching a non-profit called Change1.

"Our motto is that you change one's mind, you change one's life," explained Jones.

Students at Texas State University created a public service announcement for the group. Courtney is also teaming up with the University of Texas to get more aid to foster youth and those who are working to help them.

She's focusing on a newly launched initiative with CASA, the Court Appointed Special Advocates for children. It emphasizes listening to foster kids when they act out instead of reacting. It's something she says she never had.

"I feel like it was never addressed. You know, why are you sexually acting out? Why are you running away? Why are you being disrespectful when you're talking to an adult?" recalled Jones.

She knows it won't start off easy. She's been there.

"I played that card a lot, is that 'you don't get it.' 'you haven't been in my shoes.' and 'who are you?'" admitted Jones.

However, Courtney does get it. She's the voice for the voiceless. At Change1 she's taking donations to help provide foster youth, and those who've aged out, with temporary housing, employment, food, clothing and hygiene products.


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