SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Four years after Sacramento County Child Protective Services removed Katrina Haywood from her mother's abusive grip, the woman still has managed to stand in the way of her daughter entering college, finding a job or paying for the roof over her head.
Haywood, 18, has spent two months starting to clean up a mess that foster care workers say she couldn't have prevented.
Eight entities, including Bank of America and Pacific Gas and Electric, want a total of $6,000 from Haywood. She says her birth mother started opening lines of credit using subtly crafted aliases and Haywood's Social Security number. Since the bills weren't paid, the credit history associated with Haywood's Social Security number is filled with accounts in poor standing.
Exiting the state's 60,000-member foster system at about the age of 18 is hard enough for teenagers such as Haywood. For one to five out of every 10 children, the situation is even worse. Their Social Security numbers and birthdays -- easily accessible to birth parents, foster parents, siblings, social workers and courts -- were hijacked so others could get quick cash from banks, keep electricity and water flowing, avoid criminal conviction or even save on taxes and medical costs.