Taneya Sickmon spent 4 years in Colorado's foster care system.
Taneya entered the foster care system at age twelve due to her mother’s abusiveness and drug addiction. She was placed with her aunt and uncle with her younger sister. She’s lived with them ever since, and Taneya and her sister were adopted adopted by their aunt and uncle in 2011.
“I feel that I was lucky in my foster care experience because I was placed with people I know and care for, and who I know care for me, and because my sister and I were allowed to stay together,” says Taneya. “Before entering foster care, many caseworkers came in and out of the home trying to help resolve the conflicts with my biological mother, and were at first working to keep us together with our mother until they realized that would never be possible.” Taneya recounts years of abuse, “I experienced a lot of confusion and anger during those years. Foster care helped me deal with those anger issues, and live in a safe, loving environment.”
Now, as a member of the Youth Advisory Board of Larimer County in Colorado, Taneya advocates for young people still in foster care who do not have a voice to affect change in the system. The Youth Advisory Board collaborates with local Department of Human Services workers to help them provide the best care and support to the youth they case manage.
Taneya remembers wishing she could have had access to peer support when she was in foster care. “I didn't have the support or understanding that I would have liked to have of what was going on around and happening to me,” she says. “I want to give back to kids, who are in my position now, to help them get the best care, support and understanding that I didn't get. I want to improve the system to help better the future for others. I believe we need to be a voice for those who have no say.”
Taneya’s service work extends beyond the foster care system. She volunteers at the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and provides friendly customer service and waitressing to the Veterans and members. In middle school, Taneya volunteered at elementary schools to provide homework help, present on life skills, and prepare fun activities to build healthy lifestyle skills.
While in college, Taneya intends to work as a psychiatric aide with people who have physical and mental disabilities. Once she earns a Master's degree, she is interested in working at a local counseling center to provide counseling support to individuals suffering from mental and emotional disabilities.