Poetry event brings awareness to state foster care crisis

PORTSMOUTH — New Hampshire’s first Youth Poet Laureate Ella McGrail used her neighbors, the Sillanpaa family, as the inspiration for her foster care poetry-themed event at RiverRun Bookstore Monday evening.
Currently managing a household of five children all under the age of 7, Airial Sillanpaa and her husband Gary, of Portsmouth, became licensed as foster parents in 2010. McGrail, who babysits for the family, said when she saw a Portsmouth Herald article in May about the Sillanpaas’ foster care journey and the state’s foster crisis, she took special notice.
“For the youth poet laureate, there isn’t a precedent for it since I’m the first,” said McGrail, who will attend Bard College in the fall. “I had to decide what the role would be so I picked a social justice (angle). I read the newspaper article about Airial and I had no idea this was happening, I had no idea this was a crisis.”
According to recent statistics from the Division of Child, Youth and Families, foster care placements in New Hampshire exploded from 567 in 2014 to 763 in 2017 so far. Workers in the field have said currently, there are simply not enough foster homes in the state. To read more on this story by Hadley Barndollar Click Here.                    

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