There are over half a million children in foster care in the United States on any given day. While we are certain that parental care has the greatest potential for ensuring the welfare of these children, not enough people are willing to open their lives to the problems of raising other people’s children. We cannot begin to ensure that each child has a home.
Whatever damage is done to their innocence in their original home is compounded by the lesson that they can’t trust us to care for them either. Their “placements” are temporary, their relationships transitory. They are moved physically from month to month and year to year and so learn quickly that there is no genuine opportunity to bond with a caring adult who will be there for them after the next move. They are isolated from their sisters and brothers, extended family members, friends, classmates and community. Consequently, the system itself causes damage to them, perhaps the worst damage of all.
To top that off, about twenty-five thousand of them each year join the ranks of the homeless population as they turn 18 years old. The programs to help these young people make the transition from youth to adulthood are seriously underfunded and limited to those who know how to access them and have the qualifications to enroll in them and maturity to voluntarily remain in a system that has already caused them so much grief.
These are our children, WE THE PEOPLE have custody of them and we are responsible for their lives and their future. It’s time we took this responsibility to heart.
This forum is for foster families, foster children, biological parents, professionals and ordinary people who care about kids. I hope we will use it to teach each other how to raise our children in a way that gives them a fair shot at the American Dream.