Foster care is general term applied when government gets involved directly in helping to raise children. This is a response to the obligation a society has to protect and raise their children. The U.S. foster care becomes necessary when parents cannot fulfil their obligation to meet the basic needs of the child, including being in a safe environment. The name foster mean doing something to help a child grow.
What Foster Care Does
When necessary, the court has the authority to remove children from their parents if the situation is unsafe and / or their basic needs are not being met.
Rather than the children’s homes we used to place children in (like we see in Annie), they are now placed with certified families in an attempt to make life as normal as possible. The U.S. foster care system replaced the U.S. orphanage system during the 20th century.
In some situations, children must live with professionals in group homes where they can received focused assistance to meet their specific needs. This is called therapeutic foster care.
Social workers and other experts examine the situation to develop a plan with the welfare of the children as the top priority. While the most desirable goal is to return the children to their parents or other family members (this occurs 55% of the time), that is not always possible. If experts determine that children cannot return, the court will terminate the parental rights, which means the children are now wards of the state and orphans. This is the result for about 25% of the children entering the foster care system.
On average it takes 11 month to terminate parental rights. After termination, these orphans wait another 22 months on average to be adopted.
Constant Need for Foster Parents
At any one time, there are 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. That is the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma. 400,000 members of the next generation of Americans who by no fault of their own are in bad situations and need direction; therefore, there is an constant need for adults willing to step up and foster these children.
Yes, foster parenting can be hard, as is parenting any child. Foster parenting does bring some special challenges because of what the children have been through and are continuing to experience.
The children are not in this situation by choice. Foster parents have the opportunity to provide a stable household and serve as examples of stable adulthood. It is not for everyone, but God has equipped many to answer this calling.
If like me, foster parenting is not for you, can you support those who have answered this call? Become certified for respite care to give the foster parents a break from the children. Provide meals and other help at the house. Contact your local government agency that administers foster care in your county or state and ask how you can help.
For more information, go to http://www.childwelfare.gov/adoption/nam/
Perhaps you want to help the children directly but not as a foster parent. Maybe the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program would be right for you. Some states have a program called GAL (Guardian Ad Litem). In Indiana, we have both programs.
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, ensuring they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed with the child being placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer — like their Foster Parent — will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.
You don’t need any specials skills to be a CASA or GAL except a desire to help children and the tenacity to stay with the case until conclusion. Who knows what change in the world you will affect tomorrow by what you do today.
For more information, go to http://www.CASAforChildren.org