Childhood abuse leads Reddick to seek foster care reform

The unsparing obituary

To read the full text of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick's obituary, go to:

By Ellie Bogue of The News-Sentinel
Monday, June 16, 2014 - 8:00 am

The first time Katherine Reddick entered the foster care system she was 6 months old.
Until she was 7 years old, she bounced back and forth between her mother and foster care. While in foster care, her 16-month-old-brother was beaten to death. When she was 7, she was permanently placed in a children's home, where she remained until she was 18.
Even as an adult her mother continued to be an abusive force in her life. Reddick and her other siblings finally left town to get away from her. After her mother died September 30 Reddick and her brother wrote and published her mother's obituary in the newspaper. In the letter they revealed to the public the truth about their mother and her abusive treatment of her children.
The opening paragraph:
“Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick, born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Sept. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love.”
Reddick said she felt relief when her mother passed away: relief she no longer had to worry about dealing with her mother and relief she could now return to her hometown if she wanted to. She said she “wrote the obituary to re-ignite the discussion about child abuse in this country, and how our society has neglected to do much about it to help it.”
Reddick has taken her experience and used it to fuel her ambition to help others. At 57, she now holds a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology and is certified to be school principal and superintendent.
Working as an assistant principal at Ross Elementary School in Odessa, Texas, she sees the collateral damage every day: children who are either in the foster care system or live in abusive family situations. She wants to change the system. She doesn't blame the child-welfare system, but she said it just doesn't work. She wants to get groups involved who will be willing to provide services to help these kids make it in life.
“When you have been in the system, it's like you have been in prison, you have no idea how to interact socially and function once you are out on your own,” Reddick said.
“It's like taking your child and dropping (the child) into Japan. It is a foreign culture where you don't speak the language,” Reddick said.
Is it any wonder, Reddick asks, that 70 percent of the prisoners in the U.S. penal system were at one time in the foster-care system? In 2006, there were 400,000 children in the foster care system in the US.
Beginning June 26, Reddick will be in the area to spread her message of system reform.
Reddick will meet with Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards June 26, then speak at the Kendallville Library 5:30-6:30 p.m that evening. In the morning on June 27, she'll be on Theater for Ideas. On June 28, she'll speak at the main Allen County Public Library downtown at 2 p.m. and do workshops on foster care.
Reddick's visit is presented by Three Rivers Art Center for Kids TRACK and made possible by a grant from the Cable Fund Access Board.