A Lost Childhood

Andre Johnson has experienced more than his fair share of adversity.

While the 21-year-old University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) student is in many cases a fantastic example of a former foster child finding success after aging out of the system, his journey has been anything but easy.

The third of four children, Johnson grew up with his two older brothers and younger sister in a single-parent home in Little Rock.

As Johnson and his siblings grew older, their mother began to use drugs, leading to a home environment that was full of neglect.

“The streets caught up with her,” said Johnson, who first entered foster care during his second-grade year.

Johnson and his siblings were able to go back home but their time with their mother would only last another six months as she fell back into drug use. “When she failed, there was no coming back.”

“I don’t really know how I’m here right now,” said Johnson.

Johnson was separated from his siblings when they reentered care, ending up at the home of one of his teachers from the Arkansas School for the Blind. The placement lasted a little over a year as the teacher opted to tell DCFS officials they needed to find another home for Johnson. “I felt betrayed,” said Johnson.

After remaining in the foster care system for a few more years, Johnson aged out at 18. Utilizing resources provided by DHS, Johson was accepted to UAPB.

Now a thriving history major and aspiring educator, Johnson is determined not to make the same mistakes as his mother. “It’s a cycle of diminishing returns,” said Johnson. “I don’t want to go back to the life I lived.”