Across the United States, households are struggling to parent their children. So many factors affect the ability of families to succeed – unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty, homelessness, hopelessness. Fractured families often become families who abuse or neglect their children, and the local Children’s Services steps in to protect them. If their immediate in-home interventions are not enough to ensure the safety of the children, they are removed from their living situations.
What happens to these children who are removed for their own safety? Some are placed with kinship care – families who are known to the child. If there is no one available or adequate, the child is placed with screened and trained foster parents, with the goal of reuniting with natural families as soon as the parents have fulfilled the requirements to restructure their lives. It sounds like the solution is complete – but here is the problem… sheer numbers.
Across the country, there are almost a half million kids in out of home care today, kids who were forcibly removed from their parents or families. Interestingly, despite the family preservation initiatives in the past decade aimed at creating resilient families, there has been no reduction in the need for out of home care – in the past 10 years, the numbers of youth in care have not been reduced – every year, for the last 10 years, there have been almost 500,000 kids in out-of-home-care!
Each state struggles with their own statistics and issues. In the past few years, the numbers have risen due to the opioid epidemic and the Covid pandemic, creating a drastic need for more foster parents. In Ohio, Gov. DeWine created a task force in 2020 to examine what he called “Ohio’s Foster Care Crisis” to restructure vital care for youth.
So what does this mean to your community? Even though the ultimate aim is for children to be reunified, sadly, many families are never able to beat their addictions and their issues to reclaim their children. These youth are placed for adoption but remain in foster care until then. Youth who have been abused and neglected are in desperate need of stable families to help them learn new patterns of coping and find an enjoyable childhood. Statistics show that for youth in long-term out-of-home-care, only 2 in 7 grow up to be completely self-sufficient adults – the other 5 are a cost to the community through crime, the justice system and public assistance, but more tragically, in the loss of their potential contributions.
How can you be part of the solution? Consider opening your home to foster a youth or a sibling group. You and your extended family may be the safe haven the youth needs to find his footing, overcome his challenges and become a contributing adult. Perhaps he can be reunited with his family, or perhaps he will be placed for adoption, but you can know that you, as a dedicated and caring foster parent, made a vital difference in each child’s life.
Call today to discuss the possibilities and make a difference in a child’s life!