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What led to the founding of You Gotta Believe?

In 1995, Pat O’Brien, a Brooklynite working in New York City on preventing homelessness noticed a peculiar pattern: when reviewing surveys of adults in homeless shelters, he found that as many as 50% had spent time in foster care.

Pat realized that youth who were leaving the foster care system had nowhere to go and were often finding themselves homeless. He thought it unrealistic to imagine that youth ages 18-21 would be prepared to make it on their own in today’s society after being turned out onto the streets by the foster care system. Those teens needed permanent parents just as much as younger youth who are most often considered ready for adoption.

And thus was born You Gotta Believe.

Working with a group of adoptive parents and young people who aged out of care, Pat conceived of the idea of You Gotta Believe! The Older Child Adoption and Permanency Movement, Inc. Though initially started as a homelessness prevention program, YGB was envisioned as a movement to find permanent parents for teens without regard to their status as a freed child or even a child at all.

Today, YGB is focused on one goal – to recruit lifetime parents for  young adults, teens and tweens currently in the foster care system. For those who ask, “Where is Johnny going to live when Johnny gets discharged from foster care?” the answer is simple – “Right here at home with his family.”


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