I was born into an abusive home. So, as a kid, I depended on foster care and other programs to grow up safe. But our state doesn’t have resources for educating and caring for Washington kids. I became homeless as a child, and was coerced into human trafficking. Those years of my life were marked by violence and trauma. I lived in constant fear in foster care, and in constant motion, cycling through foster homes, juvenile detention, and the streets.
There wasn’t a safe place for me to go as a kid, and there weren’t resources to help me grow up healthy. That’s what happens when we depend on a broken tax code to fund important things. In Washington, we have the most upside down tax code in America – we ask working families to pay the highest rate in taxes and give tax breaks to the powerful at the top. It’s not an effective way to fund the things we all need to have thriving communities – and that includes things like great schools and a safety net for kids like me in Washington.
As a mother, I wouldn’t wish my childhood on any child. When I was 17 years old, I aged out of the child welfare system addicted to drugs and pregnant. I was traumatized and in and out of the criminal justice system. I needed treatment and therapy, but none were available. Again, that’s not something we’ve had the revenue to pay for in Washington. I was haunted by the legacy of violence and abuse for the next 16 years.
I was able to break the cycle of violence, for myself and my kids. I finished my degree at Whitworth, despite struggling to make ends meet. I mucked out horse stalls to pay for my daughter’s piano lessons, and made sure that all my kids were involved in sports, Girl Scouts, choir, art classes, and dance. I’m proud to say that my children are now thriving young adults.
I was able to give them the things that every child should have, but that I never experienced.
If and parents like me can sacrifice and achieve for ourselves, and for our families, then we can also build a Washington where all kids have the foundations they need to succeed.
We can build a Washington where we lead the nation in things like education, child welfare, and mental healthcare. But you can’t get something for nothing, and we can’t have these things without fixing our upside down tax code.