Lita Trejo is a foster mom in the Brightwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C. She works with the Foster Care program at the Latin American Youth Center, which places kids with temporary families until a social worker can help reunite them with their own parents.
Trejo has taken in kids, mostly teenagers, for the past 16 years. When people ask what it's like to be a foster parent, Lita explains, "It's like asking a parent 'what do you do as a parent?' It's the same thing."
After taking in more than 20 kids, she says the job feels like an extension of how she cared for her own two biological children.
One of the first kids to stay at her house was a seventh grader, who couldn't read. Trejo told him this was unacceptable, and that they would be reading together every night for 20 minutes. The kid resisted, announcing (as most of the kids do at one time or another, Trejo says) that she "isn't his mother." Trejo persisted, and a year later, her foster son became one of the top students in his grade.
Trejo says raising a child is [her] social obligation.
"You don't have to have a house, you don't have to be rich," she says. "All you need is to have love for kids, and a room."
[Music: "Sweet Child o'Mine" by Various Artists from Bossa N Roses]