PBSC honors student helping foster care youth learn their rights

Tierra Lamore in the Florida Senate Chamber.

From age 6 to 15, Palm Beach State College student Tierra “Tee” Lamore suffered physical and mental abuse in Florida’s foster care system. Now, she has made it her mission to help improve what she calls a broken system as a statewide board delegate in Florida Youth SHINE’s (FYS) Palm Beach Chapter, a youth-led foster advocacy group.

Lamore, the Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College Student of the Year for the Palm Beach Gardens campus, is pursuing an Associate in Arts degree and plans to graduate this summer. She joined the FYS chapter two years ago to help foster youth know their rights.

“Unfortunately, my foster care experience was mostly negative,” said Lamore, who moved multiple times between group homes, shelters and families while in the system. “My rights were violated and everything that should not have happened happened.”

Lamore was adopted at age 15 but it failed, and she became homeless at 18. “I didn’t know that I had a right not to be abused or that I had a right to have money or certain things,” said Lamore, who now lives in a transitional homeless youth facility.

As part of FYS, she is helping legislation pass not only to help foster youth know their rights but to make life in general and in college easier.

Lamore testified earlier this year during a Florida Senate hearing to advocate for recently passed Senate Bill 1708 that helps homeless youth get motor vehicle insurance and a driver’s license, as well as requires colleges and universities to have a knowledgeable and responsive person to assist homeless youth with the tuition exemption process.

“A lot of future and current foster youth and homeless youth could really benefit from this,” Lamore said during her speech. “I want to have a better life. I want to do better and be better. I don’t want to be another statistic. I feel like this bill would make it easier for that.”

While in Tallahassee, she and other FYS statewide delegates, also advocated for House Bill 563 and Senate Bill 792, which, if passed, would have designated a children’s ombudsman within the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

Tierra Lamore at the state capitol building in Tallahassee with other statewide delegates of Florida Youth SHINES.

The ombudsman would, in consultation with the department, develop standardized information explaining the rights of children and young adults placed in out-of-home care. It would also require a statewide toll-free number for those who wish to contact the ombudsman, among other initiatives.

“I had the honor of working with Tee as my honors student assistant on the Gardens campus and experienced her inspiring and altruistic personality, but she also struck my ‘soft spot’ for moving poetry,” said Associate Professor Robin Fiedler.

Lamore won third place in the 2022 Florida Collegiate Honors Council Dr. Janet Haavisto writing contest for her poem titled “The Hardest Thing” which was a message to people who struggle with codependency and the process of overcoming it.

“When she read her poem out loud to her peers during the conference, eyes filled with tears,” Fiedler said.

Another one of her poems, “Safety Isn’t Real,” won second place in Fostering Families Today magazine’s Youth Voice Contest. It was published in the May/June 2022 issue.

This summer, Lamore plans to intern as a social media marketer with Florida’s Children’s First which is the organization that funds FYS. She will be learning marketing skills to build and organize websites, including writing articles for social media. She also plans to attend Florida State University this fall, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminology with a minor in African American studies.

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