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Virgil Frazier, 19, says that he has been in 20 boarding homes, group residences, and psychiatric hospitals during his 18 years in Connecticut's foster care system. His mother gave him up at birth. Mr. Frazier admits that he was a hyperactive, destructive child. He says that when he was a 14-year-old patient in a residential psychiatric center for juveniles, he faked a suicide attempt. Four years later he was discharged from foster care.

He took temporary jobs as a construction laborer and stayed in a rooming house in Springfield, Mass. But he soon fell behind with the rent, and after six months he was evicted.

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For two months he drifted through homeless shelters in New Haven, Conn., working at odd jobs. Eventually he made his way to New York, where he hoped to find his mother. Unable to get work, he came to Covenant House, a private social welfare agency in Manhattan for homeless youths. (24-hour hot line: 800-999-999)

``[Foster care] just put me in any place they could find until I was 18. They only want to give you shelter,'' said Frazier. ``If they cared about you, they would give you something - a program to help you get on your feet. They owe me something. It wasn't right that they just pushed me out.''

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