What You Can Do to Help End Child Poverty (with David Ambroz)

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Hundreds of thousands of young people in this country live in poverty or are homeless. Many thousands more face uncertain futures, and even abuse, while navigating (or languishing in) the foster care system. In A Place Called Home, author and child welfare advocate David Ambroz chronicles his life growing up homeless in New York City. He tells Gloria about his experience in foster care, the work he’s done to make the system safer for LGBTQ+ youth, and what action is still needed to begin solving the intersecting mental health, homelessness, and child poverty crises.

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This podcast is presented by Neighborhood Villages, and is brought to you with generous support from Imaginable FuturesCare For All Children by the David and Laura Merage Foundation, and Spring Point Partners.

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Gloria Riviera, David Ambroz

Gloria Riviera  00:11

Hey guys, how’s everyone doing this week? Well guess what? I am in a very good mood, bro. We no one is coming to save us that is, has been nominated for another really exciting award. The signal awards seek to recognize standout podcasts. We have been nominated as the best podcast series in the category of family and child raising. We do need your help to win, go to vote dot signal award.com or visit the link in the show notes to cast your vote for no one is coming to save us. You will need to create an account and register to vote. But it just takes a second. Don’t forget to check your email to verify your account. Thank you guys all so very much we would not be here without you. This is of course NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US, presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. I am your host Gloria Riviera. I recently read a place called home the new memoir by David Ambroz with pen in hand. Every chapter is annotated. It is the harrowing account of David’s childhood in the care of his mentally ill mother. She was and the book conveys this very loving when she could be. But she was not a consistently capable caregiver. They were homeless. They were poor and their poverty almost killed them. It’s actually the opening scene of his book. His mother beat him and his siblings horribly, many, many times, so much so that David was convinced his mother might kill him. After he was removed from her care, David was placed in the foster care system, another harrowing psychologically and physically abusive environment at times, and a social safety net in this country that shares a lot of DNA with childcare. We want it to work. And it’s easy to argue that we as a country should provide a hell of a lot more funding for it. But guess what the foster care system in this country is as threadbare as the childcare system is, as I type this, the first thought that comes into my mind is it’s scary. It was within the foster care system that David encountered anti-gay sentiment, my sense it was essentially policy at the time, that ostracized him from the system and separated him from his beloved brother and sister. He will tell you more about that in particular, but suffice it to say, of his many accomplishments in adulthood. One that stands out is the fact that he has effected real change for LGBTQ youth within the foster care system. That is a rock star at work right there. As I read David’s book, I noted again, and again, what was resonating with me, double underlining, rewriting striking word pairings, or even full sentences of revelation in the margin, with exclamation mark after exclamation mark. This, this moment, this image, this feeling, and sometimes just oh my god. Those are the same feelings I’ve had around child care in this country. I keep with me images or moments that people on this show have described to me and I keep them in my heart. And not to be cliche, but man, I’m telling you, it aches, we have to do something about that ache. David’s mother taught him to understand and forgive and to conquer one impossible thing at a time. He writes that when he dedicates the book to her, they are the same lessons we would all do well to take with us into the childcare and early education battle. Here now is my conversation with the deeply thoughtful, the very warm and quite brilliant David Ambroz.

Gloria Riviera  04:14

David Ambrose, it is so good to see you. Welcome to No One is Coming To Save Us. We are so lucky you are here. And you are a living breathing mic drop of impact and success. And I want you to tell us how you open the book. You’re very young you right if we stop walking, you’re in New York City, we will freeze to death. You’re with your siblings. Your sister tripped and you write, it occurs to me that my sister might not be okay. Alex is too quiet. My own mind doesn’t feel right. We’re disappearing into ghosts. Can you tell me about what this book goes over? And can you tell me If and when, and what you wrestled with when you decided to write it.

David Ambroz  05:05

So the story opens, with my family having been cleaned out of Grand Central where we were living. And at the time, many people were living there. And as we are today discussing the tsunami of homelessness and affordability crisis here in this country, my family was one of the early people that experienced the cleanup of New York City. We were forced out of our nook and cranny inside the station and sent onto the streets. My mom, my brother, my sister, and myself, my mom’s suffering from a debilitating and untreated mental health, array of issues. And I opened the book there because we are facing so much of the same today. We have today according the New York Times 118,000, homeless children in New York City. So I start the story there, because 40 plus years later, we have a lot of the same issues. But I also start the story there because I think we also have made progress. In my lifetime, we’ve more than halved the number of kids living in poverty. There are today 8.4 million there was more than double that when I was at age. And I share that because we in, I would call it the Hope Community can’t constantly scream fire. We have to pay people to go into burning buildings. The public is not going to go there. We have to represent the truth, which is we’ve made progress. Imperfect progress. I am a child of welfare, imperfect welfare, I am a child of abuse of foster homes, imperfect foster homes, and I am a child of federal financial aid to get me through college imperfect financial aid. But that is the goal. This country is forever trying to be more perfect. And I am very proud of the progress we’ve made. And I’ve been part of it. But the reason I shared my story now what I wrestled with, was 8.4 million children live in poverty in this country. Are we okay with that? Are we okay with that? Not since 1999 in a presidential debate, have the words child poverty been mentioned. Are we okay with that, we talk about coal miners at every single presidential debate, we should talk about coal miners. That’s not my point. My point is just a couple 1000 of them. And there’s a point 4 million American children living in poverty. So I think we have to remain hopeful we have to embrace and nourish ourselves with the success that we’ve made in progress. And yet, we also have to face the stark realization that we have to do more. And now,

Gloria Riviera  07:50

David, you mentioned the phrase child poverty was mentioned in a presidential debate. And it makes me think that just this year, the State of the Union, the President mentioned the words, childcare, right. So these are two threadbare or non-existent social safety nets that I worry share a lot of DNA. And what I mean by that is that we as a society, don’t want to see what we don’t want to see. And there were so many moments in your book in which the scenes you describe are ones in which you feel invisible, not noticed. And one of the first ones that struck me is when your family lived next to Aurora. And I can still see in my mind, you know, I can picture her apartment with warm food on the table for her own children. She calls your mother out. Can you tell us that story and how you reacted to it?

David Ambroz  08:47

So at various times, we found refuge in slum apartments, and they would be short lived. And we’d end up back on the street. But one of those we lived in this very traditional New York style, five storey turn of the century building. And one of our neighbors Aurora was there with her two boys. And she was remarkable. She was very clearly a prostitute. And, you know, used her apartment for her work. She cared for her kids, and she did what she had to do to survive and thrive in her own circumstance. Aurora saw things as they were, and she had a fierce sense of right and wrong in her own mind. And when she saw the behavior of my mom towards us, she called my mom out. And I hadn’t really seen people do that before. I was very young, but I also hadn’t seen people respond. And here is someone that most of us, candidly would look down on. Doing what most people in our society did not. They would walk past me when I was begging. They would ignore the bruises on me. They would ignore my family dying in the street, and here’s this woman seeing a wrong and calling it out. I don’t expect every individual listening to walk by a homeless person and save that individual. It’s impossible. But the problem we have, I believe around all issues is that we stop there. We say to ourselves, I can’t because, and then we stop. And instead, that period needs to become a comma. And it should read, I can’t because of x, but I will, y. And the y is whatever you are capable of doing. Maybe it’s just caring. Maybe it’s spending an hour a year learning about an issue in your community. We have to get over this learned helplessness. oh, I don’t know anything about how local government works. Oh, it doesn’t work, make it work. Show up. Ask a question. And I don’t think you need to lift up every homeless person you walk by. But what do you know about the top three organizations helping homeless people in your jurisdiction, in your community? Then let’s all find out. Do you know who is running the school system in your community? Let’s find out. And then ask them. How do you help homeless kids? How do you integrate foster kids, when they show up at your school? We can all care. And if you can do more than care, become a volunteer, donate $1 to the scholarship fund set up for foster kids, become a foster parent, run for office, God help us all. I hope we do. But there isn’t a ladder of engagement. You don’t have to go right to the hardest thing. But don’t stop with what you can’t do. I don’t know how a country that sent a man to the moon, is so proud of filling a pothole, we have to re-Ignite and connect with a moonshot, not just your cancer, but to end poverty.

Gloria Riviera  11:48

A lot of times on this podcast, we say it doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t have to be the struggle that we live every single day. That certainly applies to childcare and everything you write about in your book. It was interesting to me that the day that I got your book, I came home and I happened to look at my phone and there was a message on next door. It’s a neighborhood listserv, and an immigrant mother getting back on her feet. And she’s been posting here and there, wrote to say she got a job, but she couldn’t take the job unless she had childcare. And she writes, my biggest issue is the inevitable childcare. And several people responded, it makes me think, again, we don’t see those in need. And when you talk about that ladder, you just have to get on the first rung, you cannot walk past people in need and not do anything. Because the privilege of growing up, the way that we do is that we have the ability, and that’s what I think is untapped. The ability, we don’t know, we make excuses. We don’t take any action. And I think your book is all about what we can all do. David, you’ve done a lot of things that took a lot of action, and one of them is fostermore.org, which you co-founded. What is that all about? And what do you say to people who’ve never even contemplated becoming a foster parent.

David Ambroz  13:31

So fostermore.org really was the distillation of my experience working in media. So what I learned in media was the power of the public. When we get behind an issue, things change. And one of the issues I saw most clearly go from the nether regions of uncared to Central in our political and emotional conversations was breast cancer. You know, we had 40 years ago who talked about it, half the species thought it wasn’t our problem. And then if we didn’t think about it, or talk about it was dark and depressing. And then fast forward to today, where we can buy a pink tic tac or a car or a Kitchen aid appliance where the NFL wears pink leggings or whatever they’re called. And corporations wrap themselves in pink I was on a Delta flight and they do a massive outreach campaign, how did an issue go from nowhere to Central.

Gloria Riviera  14:25

Somebody made it less scary. I mean, when you ask how did that happen? My immediate thought is somebody somewhere made it less scary. I don’t know how they did that.

David Ambroz  14:34

Well, that’s what the child welfare and poverty movement needs to figure out. And that’s what foster more is about. Things will not change. Just because we have a big sale. The sale without wind doesn’t get you anywhere and the wind is the power of the American public. You see it rally after disaster. I believe in the default goodness of people in this country. And it comes up all the time. But we and child warfare community and poverty community need to find a way to do the same journey that breast cancer, or I would even say veterans have gone on when they returned from Vietnam. Did we respect them? No. And then today, where we are with veterans in our country, corporations and branding and military flyovers over sporting events, how do those things happen? It’s important for us to figure out and foster more for me, it was an effort begun and ongoing to put foster care and adoption, not in some nether region that no one cares about, but Central, using the tools and mechanisms that I could figure out from those other movements, as well as branding and marketing. And I’m not saying to BS the issue. But if we want to engage the public to fill our sail with their power, their gust, their hurricane, then we’ve got to invite them to the party. And we’re not, we use bizarre acronyms. We alienate people. We constantly lead with the worst story and hopelessness. And breast cancer doesn’t do that. Veterans doesn’t do that. They don’t ignore the truth. They show women without hair. They, they talk about the […], but it doesn’t badger you over the head. It gives you a place to come into the movement and be part of a solution. You can donate $1, you can buy something you’re gonna buy anyway, you could buy a stamp. And it escalates up. What if we did that with poverty? And foster more is the diff trying to do that with child what fell in poverty, we created something called a foster friendly workplace certification. Right now, when you think of foster parents, or you think of biological parents of these foster kids, do you think gosh, I want to recruit them? No. Or what if a foster parent has to go to court and they work for you, they have to take time off. So here we have people serving our country like a veteran or military member. And yet we penalize them for that service. Well, foster care friendly workplace certification, which CBS, Viacom major American companies have signed on to make sure that your policies support foster and adoptive parents. So they can when they get a new placement, take leave to bond as they need to settle that infant into their home, just like a new parent.

Gloria Riviera  17:18

That sounds absolutely incredible. And I just want to say thank you for doing the work you do and so much more. Quite often, what you write seems to me very self-aware. And my question is, one example would be your awareness very early on that you had to take care of your mother, keep your family together, but also that your pain was not your mother’s intent. And there are scenes in which you are beaten by your mother. And you speak so eloquently about your realizations during that time. But there’s no blame, even when you ultimately get yourself out of her care so that she can’t kill you. Were you self-aware in real time? How did that? What did that look like, as these painful episodes were occurring?

David Ambroz  18:07

So I opened the book dedicated to my mom. And it reads to my mother who taught me to forgive and to conquer one impossible thing at a time. And I start with that, because blame is balanced its weight. And it just holds you. You can’t get anywhere. And if you do, it’s hard. And I learned very early that it was also a luxury for me. I did not have the opportunity to sit and reminisce or mourn things that were going on each day, it wasn’t a matter of would it was if and how hard was the world trying to hurt me? Be it the indifference of the public never mind my mom’s fists, the benign and not so benign neglect we have for people in poverty, which is as pernicious as my mother’s fists. But I knew each day meant a different impossible thing I had to surmount. I had to very quickly realize each day I needed to focus on surviving. And survival is a very harsh master. So I had to survive, which meant I needed this imperfect guide in this world who was my mother? I could not survive in this world without that woman. As harsh as it was. She was my only guide through Inferno. And my mom required me to quickly understand how to best work with that guide. And for my mom, I also saw very early on that my mom was sick, and I didn’t have the words then, but I knew and I felt to my core that it wasn’t her fault. And it didn’t mean I didn’t wasn’t mad at her. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t suffer doesn’t mean I made it that decision one time, I would describe family as an ongoing game of forgiveness, including, quote unquote, normal families. It’s like a tennis volley back and forth. Forgiveness and love, forgiveness and love, forgiveness and love. My mom required me to learn that skill, because I understood that she was sick. And it was brutal. And I struggle with it. But it wasn’t just my mom, it was the indifference of the society. You know, I am such a believer in this country, despite it all, and somewhat because of it. So my mom taught me that very important lesson, and I took it. I’m one of her caregivers today, you know, I helped get her off the street and into housing the last 20 years. And I take care of her because she is sick. And the way that we treat mental health in this country is our collective shame. And I refuse to allow my mother to be erased because of an illness that she cannot control.

Gloria Riviera  20:59

When you look back on the book, what are the tender moments that stay with you, between you and your mother?

David Ambroz  21:04

My mom’s three children all have advanced degrees are doing great, have healthy, thriving families. That’s because of my mom. My mom is a loving, caring person, and demanded the best of us. And there’s so many moments, quite often my mom before we would go to bed wherever the heck we were. She would say, hug me, what am I chopped liver? And I can still hear it to this day. And my mom would say you’re going to be a supreme court date, Justice David. And we were homeless. She would say that to me. She was do you understand that? My mom, imperfect. As I write about, the love was never in doubt. And the thing about foster care versus my mom to answer your question about my mom and tender moments, is no matter what I always knew my mom loved me. She would say it, she would express it, she would hug. And the violence was part of that as well. And in foster care got pretty much all violence and none of the love. So even the slow drumbeat of high expectations for my mom disappeared, even though the imperfect love evaporated. And I saw it for what it was, which was imperfect, and a damaged woman. But someone who loves me, and believed in me.

Gloria Riviera  22:28

Those two words together, I have to tell you, when I got to the part of the book in which you enter the foster care system, I was anxious, I felt anxious about what was to come because I knew it wasn’t good. And when I compare that to your time with your mother, it’s exactly that there were tender moments. And can you tell us about when your tooth was that your tooth became infected, and you went to a dentist and your mom was this incredibly as I remember it powerful figure in that moment. And it reminds me of you years later, giving the congresswoman’s husband in DC, just this big plate of fu when you’re there like to legislate on behalf of foster kids, once they turn 18 and aged out of the system. There’s this shared power that I saw as connective tissue between your mom and you going to the dentist and then you years later, you know, speaking up for yourself in Washington, can you tell us a little bit about those two scenes.

David Ambroz  23:41

So there is a through our actions, ignorance of the fact that the homeless people had biological functions. One of the parts that unfortunately came out of the original manuscript was the chapter where I talk about the human condition on the street, and I was very specific on it and open with how I learned to make tampons from my mom using toilet paper and hand towels from public bathrooms and understanding what even the hell they were for. Being with my sister when she first got her period, the first time I had herpes, uncontrolled body rashes, lice for 12 years. When you don’t care for your feet, it’s amazingly disgusting what occurs. So I sprinkled some of that throughout the memoir, bathing at the library, for instance, but it really could be its own book. And part of the indecency of all of this is dental care, which is essentially absent. And for years, I just didn’t have any. So my mouth was just assessable and my teeth crumbled out of my face. And it took decades to get me where I am today so you don’t turn away from my smile. And it’s not real But hey. But when I was a kid, I had a particularly pernicious infection that would not go away in my mouth. And my mom took me through a dentist, which was at the mall inside of a department store, which used to be a thing as some of you might remember. And we didn’t have health insurance. And so we did the best we could. My mom took me to places she could afford. And it was botched. They ended up hurting me. Not with malicious intent, but just I was one of many poor ass faces in there that day, and I got the service, you know, of a drive thru dentist, and my mom stormed in, and here was this woman who was a nurse before her illness overcame her. And she saw, I had blood pouring out of my mouth, and I was screaming. And she took charge, and she took care of me. And then she found a way to deal with it afterwards at another location. And years later, as you kind of reference, I still think about this, I think about health care all the time I walk by people on the street, and I see them quivering or injured in some way or barefoot when they shouldn’t be. And somehow some of us in the poverty communities think it’s their civil rights exercise to be mentally ill and on the street. The California if you’re familiar took a great step this year that I hope other states duplicate, which is called care court care court allows the court to actually mandate treatment. It’s decriminalized a lot of what was formerly criminal behavior in order to get people drug addiction treatment and mental health treatment. And so I hope in LA, for instance, the largest mental health care providers to county sheriff, I hope in the future, it’s not. And this care court is massive first step we’re taking on this in this country in California on January 1, we start, it can be duplicated anywhere, we could decriminalize the situation that my mom found herself in, and that I found myself in. So I think, the physical and biological needs of homeless people and people in poverty, are looked down on or ignored. And it’s turned detriment. It took me years to recover from what was done to me and also just the medical conditions I had after coming out of that way of living.

Gloria Riviera  27:41

David, years later, you go to DC to advocate for the Chafee Independence Act that will help foster kids once they age out. And there is this scene in which you’re invited to dinner at a congresswoman’s home, you’re there alone with her husband, who is obviously against what you’re advocating for. Can you tell us about the power you felt in that moment? And whether or not you think that that’s connected to the scenes in which your mother who always does, for me, at least came across as loving? And I hope for any of the readers of your book? It’s just got to be inherited. That’s what I think, do you feel that?

David Ambroz  28:19

I do feel that so I was selected out of rather randomly out of a group of kids and sent to DC and I was told that I sounded white. And that I would be talking to more or less Republicans and Dixiecrats, I didn’t understand either of those things. And one of the people I spoke with was a key vote, and was a conservative Democrat. And I had the privilege of having time with her. And then her husband. And I had gone through media training, and I understood the power of persuasion, versus anger. So I’m proud in that I was speaking with an individual who was not persuadable, by information or facts was too wrapped up in his own privilege to see through his own arguments, talking about, well, they’re adults at 18 when he was not independent at 18, nor his kids. But that didn’t matter to him. Why should the state continue to subsidize the mistakes of these people? So I was proud and that I stood up to an individual much more powerful and older and influential than I was. But I also saw it as a failure in that I lost my cool. I didn’t rant or rave or scream, but it didn’t matter. I lost my cool. And as I note, the congresswoman taught me that lesson and I’m grateful for her. If you want to persuade people, badgering them is not the way to do it. And Hamilton would say, you know, you don’t have the votes. So I learned so many lessons in that moment. And I did draw my mom’s Power and indignation that she expressed the times I remember one time we were being evicted and created from a slum apartment, AD by mom threw a shoe at the judge. And she should have thrown a chair. But the judge was a factory worker far down the line, his job was to screw the tire on. So he was in charge of evicting people. And then the southern part of the government was responsible for finding them housing when all we needed was a little bit of rent. Should she have thrown the shoe? No. But in that moment, was I happy she threw the shoe because we were about to be homeless again. And that was it’s awful. Sure, yeah. So my mom’s power is something I drew on and at times, she channeled it to get what we needed. And what I have learned to do is not only channel it, but learn the language as a lawyer and learn different skills as a legislator and learn different skills as a person who works in corporations to take all that and not be right. But when, and it doesn’t always feel good. It’s not always immediate. So I choose not to throw my shoe or yell at the Congress person’s wife today. But it’s important to realize that that route, is situated in my mom’s genius. My mom’s passion. And my mom’s sense of right and wrong.

Gloria Riviera  31:17

David, you write in the book that you made a choice, well, I don’t know. You’ll tell us. Was it a choice not to cry for 23 years? And what finally? What finally brought those tears, 23 years is a long time.

David Ambroz  31:32

Yeah. So I, as you’ll read in the book, I went into foster care, and I was placed in a delinquency facility, and it was very quickly and very, rather violently assaulted. And that was not the only time. But that’s the story I tell. But it describes my experience there for a very long time. And I knew in that moment, in that experience, that tears would get me nowhere, that if anything, there were signs of weakness that could increase what was going on, and the pain that I was being foisted upon me. And I shut it down. And it was very intentional. I shut it down. But in that process, what I realized was I taken a coping mechanism and expanded the coping mechanism was to take all of these things that were assaulting me in every way of that word, putting them in a clear plastic box and putting them on a shelf, I could still see them, but I never feel them. And it was the only way I was able to process all this stuff, every day, all of it for 20 years, and less. And when I was in my late 30s, the shelf broke. And all of that stuff came tumbling off. And it broke for a number of reasons. One, my foster son broke it. He needed me to be vulnerable. He taught me how powerful and important that was. The other thing was, I finally reached a place I believe in my deep psyche where I knew I was safe, that I had wealth that I had savings that I had a home that had friends, that I could be vulnerable again, deep inside my psyche. And then third, I realized that I had lived a life somewhat numb, doesn’t mean I didn’t love people. But I was numb. And I was numb to protect myself and I realized I’d have to be nominee more. And I wanted to have all of the fields all of the life that was out there. And those things all coming together. They came together in my mid late 30s. And I’ve realized that happiness is not a peak, it’s a plateau. And I’m chilling out up there with a cocktail and enjoying the breeze.

Gloria Riviera  33:44

I’m so glad to hear that. You know, my last question for you is that I just got to the section in the book where your guidance counselor tells you, David, whatever. It’s just such a moment. And again, it made me think of you know, how your mother might have responded in that moment. If she were told, you know, there’s no way there’s no way David’s tooth is going to get fixed. There’s no way he’s going to Vassar. For our listeners out there. You know, I’ve described this as a brutal but hopeful page turner. I feel hopeful now that you’re grabbing all these college brochures after this guy has just told you, you’re not going anywhere. Kid Community College is your best hope. What do I have left in the book? I feel like we’re on a good at a good moment, because I know a lot coming up. But just give us a little give our listeners and give me. Can I exhale now for the last, I’m on chapter 20.

David Ambroz  34:42

Yeah, the […]. And, you know, there’s challenges that happen, especially as I try and find my way back to humanity. But it’s really about the struggle to be as opposed to the struggle and there’s a lot of beautiful things that are about to happen. Not only do I go to Vassar College, but before that I actually moved to Spain. And I live in Spain, I study labial chemical, and the earth sciences. And I work on a vineyard and live with amazing woman and have a group of friends and my first pseudo gay tryst. And it is a beautiful journey that is unfurling. And it all of these appearances made me and to who I am today, all the struggle, I took all the anti-homophobic things, and I worked for decades to end, the curing of gay kids. in state custody, it took a very long time. But I was very proud of that. And I think about all of the struggles that I had, and how they informed my behavior, actions and dedication today. And for them, I’m a better tool. And I’ve made bigger change for kids. So you are past the absolute nadir of the story. And it’s while there are bumps ahead. It is bumps towards progress and joy.

David Ambroz  34:47

They’re bumps that brought us to who you are today. And I did want to ask you how have things changed for queer kids in the foster care system? And how have you been a part of that change, David.

David Ambroz  36:13

So when I went into foster care, I was diagnosed as with gender identification disorder, which was very prevalent a diagnosis, and I went through a rather rigorous attempt to make me less gay. And it didn’t work in case you’re wondering. I’m a firmly committed homosexual and happy. But it was pretty damaging pretty violent. And today, through the work of Child Welfare League of America and Lambda Legal, through something I was part of called the joint initiative. We no longer do that. The state no longer does that anywhere. That took well into Obama’s presidency to get that done. It doesn’t mean that just because we don’t cure gay kids that they received the affirmative care and love that they need or health care, it doesn’t mean that we still so much farther to go 30% of foster kids, according to the Human Rights Campaign, all children, all families initiative, 30% identify as queer, that is triple the population in general public, of people who identify as such, 30%, we need more not just queer families, those two, we need more families that will welcome and help these children, especially young adolescents, as they go through that it is so much better, so much better. The whole system is so much better. It’s the best foster care system we’ve ever had in the country’s history right now. But we have so much work to do. And that’s what the story is all about. It’s better that we need to do more.

Gloria Riviera  37:47

And I’m glad you’re telling me there is more hope to come. And I’m so grateful for all the work you’ve done. I’m so grateful for your time with us on this podcast. I’m looking forward to the next book, you said you had to cut a lot out. So looking forward to the next book. Thank you, David.

Gloria Riviera  38:15

Okay, I know I say this a lot. But this episode, this episode really deserves it. Wasn’t he amazing? Yes. He was amazing. I love the way he is measured and calm when he is conveying a story that makes me absolutely sick. I love the way he makes me think and makes me ask myself, how can I help? My own grandmother fostered well over 20 kids, my own grandmother who had no room and not a lot of money? And I am embarrassed to say I never even considered it. Now, the very question, you know, could I do it? Can I foster, that questions in my head. I don’t know where it will go. But I know this I care. I care about the problems in this country we do not see, we do not want to see. And frankly we hope would just go away. They won’t. So we have to do something about it. We have to as David’s mother taught him conquer one impossible thing at a time. Thank you to David Ambroz, for your work for your resolve to write this book and revisit your childhood. That in and of itself, that’s a gift to all of us. Listeners, check out our show notes where you can find a link to buy David’s book. And if you want to hear even more of David’s incredible story, we’ll have a special bonus episode out on Tuesday for our Lemonada Premium subscribers. You’ll hear the story of David’s experience in the foster system from living in abusive homes to meeting an incredible couple that took him in and made him feel safe and seen for the first time to listen, all you have to do is subscribe to Lemonada Premium in Apple podcasts. Alright everyone Keep going, you know that’s my message keep going. We can do this. We can do all of it. I love you all for listening for being here for joining us. Thank you.

CREDITS  40:18

NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE US is a Lemonada Media original presented by and created with Neighborhood Villages. The show is produced by Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen. Veronica Rodriguez is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. Our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, and me Gloria Riviera. If you like the show, and you believe what we’re doing is important. Please help others find us by leaving us a rating and writing us a review. Do you have your own experiences and frustrations with the childcare system? Do you have ideas for what we could do to make it better? Join the No One Is Coming To Save Us Facebook group where we can continue the conversation together. You can also follow us and other Lemonada podcasts at @LemonadaMedia across all social platforms. Thank you so much for listening. We will be back next week. Until then hang in there. You can do it.

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