OLATHE, Kan. — FosterAdopt Connect hosted a pretty unique bus tour for elected officials, social care workers and healthcare providers Monday.
It’s called the Journey Home Bus Tour, giving the participants a taste of what it's like for a child going through the foster system.
“When you're walking as a kid in care does, you really get to see a lot of the heartache that goes into coming into care,” FosterAdopt Connect youth supervisor Nathan Ross said.
Participants are assigned a child’s identity. The organization states the identities are based on the stories of real children.
Participants are also handed trash bags to carry their belongings.
Looking at the statistics on the walls at KVC Health Systems and interacting with physicians, child protection agencies, police officers and the courts, Kansas state representative Jarrod Ousley said the tour is an eye-opener.
“It's traumatizing, it's heartbreaking. I can't imagine,” Ousley said. “It's a huge complex situation. I'm sure there's people that have been involved in the system for decades that still wouldn't claim understanding of it, but the more I know, the more impactful I can be.”
Ross said a lot of it is trying to figure out the unknown.
“Everyday could be something different,” Ross said. “You could wake up in one home and go to bed in another home.”
At just 10 years old, Ross went through the foster care system.
“I didn't have all the words or understand why my feelings were the way they were but I was disappointed and I was disappointed in myself, I felt like I had failed. That somehow being in foster care was my fault,” Ross said.
Ross was later adopted at 13 years old, and now works with kids going through what he went through.
“Every single person has something they can do and we say this every time we talk to people that no matter where you are in life, you have the ability to impact people,” Ross said.
As the journey continued on, Ross said he hopes this will allow more people to step out of their preconceived ideas of what a child may be going through in the system, and be the difference for those who are in care.
This is the third year FosterAdopt Connect has hosted this event. This is the first year it was held in Johnson County, Kansas.