5.01.2013

Voices of Foster Care: An Introduction on Numbers and Perspectives


foster care from a dictionary's perspective:

noun
the raising or supervision of foster children, as orphans or delinquents, in an institution, group home, or private home, usually arranged through a government or social-services agency.



foster care from a numbers' perspective:

Nationwide: 
From Annie E. Casey Foundation

There are approximately 500,000 children in the American foster care system. The exact number varies, honestly from moment to moment. The average age is 10, with more than 65% being between the ages of 10 and 18.

In contrast, there are just over 150,000 licensed foster homes nationwide.

The average stay of a child in foster care is 28 months.

Approximately 2 million more children are living in family preservation situations, meaning a relative is a primary caregiver under the state's supervision.

An average of 54% of children in foster care are reunified with their birthparents or primary caregiver, which is the goal.

Of the remaining 46%, 60% are adopted by their foster parents. 25% are adopted by a relative of a child.

There are just over 150,000 children available for adoption in the United States through the foster care system.

Each year, more than 20,000 children nationwide will age out with no family and no support system.

On the Alabama Front as of April 1st, 2013:

There are approximately 5,035 children in foster care. ~ There are 1,720 licensed homes statewide.

In Jefferson County, there are 1,013 children in care. ~ There are 215 licensed families.

In Shelby County, there are 137 children in care. ~ There are 60 licensed families.

foster care from my perspective:

Foster care is not caring for the true orphaned ones, necessarily. At times, that is the case, but seldom.

Foster care is not even as much about breaking a cycle. Because as foster parents, judges, lawyers, or caseworkers, we don't have that kind of power over a family.

Foster care is not about adoption. It could end there, but it is never the starting point, or even middle point.

Foster care is never about "fixing" or "rescuing."

Foster care is about standing in the gap. And there are some days, whatever your role, all you accomplish is standing. 

Foster care is about hoping, where the voices of shame have drowned out all vision and hope.

Foster care is about believing in a family, that sometimes has not been believed in for generations.

And foster care is not numbers...

It is the little girl that cries through the night down my hall.

It is her daughter that begins a new calendar countdown every two weeks until she sees her mama again.

It is the gal cutting your hair, who was bounced through five foster homes, reunified three times with the same family member ~ only to age out in the end...with absolutely no one following her.

It is the five-year-old banging his head against your door because no one has ever taken the time to teach him how to attach.

It's the young man, running from his past, only to have his own son placed in care just as he was, because he has never been taught otherwise.

It's the teen mom who has one growing inside of her, and she is more excited than she has ever been because she finally has someone who she thinks will always love her and never leave her, not realizing her story is her mother's same story.

It's the mama or daddy trapped in the system, with no one to help navigate.

It's the caseworker with 60 cases piled up, unappreciated and very underpaid.

It's the foster parent who says yes, loves, dies to self, grieves, only to say yes again.

It's a system, spinning it's wheels to fix itself, but never really moving forward.

foster care from God's perspective: Isaiah 58

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
     
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

In honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month, there will be a number of guest bloggers who all play or have played a role in this journey of foster care at some point in their lives. 

Join us.

Because of the Repairer of Broken Walls,

6 comments:

  1. Thank you, Catie. We have 2 month-old placed with us. Her name means "garden". We pray Isaiah 58:11 over her. Your words here mentor and encourage me.

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    1. I love that! I love her verse and your intentionality. I may copy you :) Love your blog too :) We can be bloggy friends :)

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  2. What a blessing this post has been. We are starting the process of foster care and have encountered mostly discouragement from family and some friends who don't get it.

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    1. Meg, would love to talk more! We know discouragement! Please anytime you need to talk just holler. This is just a beautiful adventure, but we can't do it alone!

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  3. This stirs my heart, Catie. Thank you!

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    1. Thanks, Sweet Michelle! So grateful for you!

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