While growing up a ward of the state is challenging enough, many find the transition into adulthood almost impossible due to a lack of support systems beyond the walls of foster care.

Constance Iannetta is the founder of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America and told her story at a joint hearing held at Manor College yesterday. 

Constance Iannetta speaks about her experience in the foster care system.

Iannetta was placed into foster care at the young age of 11. Her mother, though alive, was a foster child herself and unable to provide a suitable life for her daughter. She had to make a heart-wrenching decision.

Iannetta’s early adulthood was plagued with housing instability, school changes, and working multiple jobs preventing her from finishing college.

“I am breaking the cycle,” Iannetta said. “While some have deemed me a foster care success, I consider myself a foster care survivor.”

Iannetta is returning to college full time for her third try, this time with the support of her husband and two adopted children. Her’s mother recently graduated college with highest honors and remains close with her daughter.

Unfortunately, Iannetta is an exception to the norm.

“Statistics say I should have been a teen mother, homeless, incarcerated and uneducated,” Iannetta explained. “destined to repeat the generational cycle of trauma and instability that has trickled down my family tree.”

Representative Kathy Watson opens the hearing.

Representative Kathy Watson is the chairman of the House Children and Youth Committee. She has long worked to develop legislation for children who do not have their parents to care for them.

“I’d suggest you think about your children, and if you have 18-year-olds, contemplate they would be absolutely on their own,” Watson said. “I can remember when my son was that age. It would have been a difficult thought.”

Representative Gene DiGirolamo, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, also attended the hearing.

“The transition can be harsh,” said Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), chairman of the Human Services Committee. “Many foster children are forced to find adequate housing, education and employment when they reach 18, though the system does an inadequate job helping these children transition into adulthood.”

The hearing, available to view online, will be used to create new legislation to help the kids who need it most through the creation of support systems to teach life skills, job skills, and provide affordable housing.