There is a large population of children in our country who are facing a crisis situation. We all have a responsibility to help these children but very few of us step forward. I am talking about the huge number of children who enter the foster care system every year. Some enter the system for only a short time, giving their parents time to right some wrongs or for a relative to come forward to provide the care they need. Some linger for years waiting for the right family to give them a forever home. Some age out of the system at eighteen years old, never knowing true love or acceptance.
My husband and I are licensed foster parents and although we have not had a large amount of kids come through our home, we have seen first hand the trauma that some of these kids face. They come from homes filled with neglect, all sorts of abuse and have lived lives that have taken away their trust in other people. I have heard of or seen kids who wet the bed, bite, scream, cry, and every other behavior that you can image.
There are kids who hide in closets, hoard food or lie. These are kids who cannot trust adults no matter the intention. One girl referred to the case worker who removed her from a horrible home as her kidnapper. No matter how traumatic the situation, they are devoted to their families, see nothing wrong and feel tremendous guilt at having to leave.
Due to the increase in our country’s opioid addiction, the number of children who enter the foster care system has sky rocketed. In 2017 in Colorado, where I live, there were 5000 children who needed care from the foster system. In contrast there were 1200 licensed foster homes.
Children show up with little notice, sometimes with a phone call at midnight. They can show up dirty, injured, with no belongings. There is a procedure in Colorado for new placements with doctor, dental and eye exams needed in a set amount of time. There are court hearings, appointments with DHS and other team members, and in some cases visits with biological parents. There are visits where often times parents don’t show up, causing anxiety and renewing the lack of trust these kids already fight with.
There is no simple answer to this problem. Getting licensed is not an easy process. Once you are licensed the work is long, tiring and with little compensation or back up. These kids fight you at every turn and sometimes, no matter what you try you cannot reach them. They sometimes stay just long enough for you to get attached and then they have to leave. It is not easy.
But on the flip side when you are able to reach that child and show them that there are good people in the world and are able to show them their actual self worth, the reward you feel is amazing.
If you think you may be able to help one of these children please research placement agencies in your town. If you aren’t able to commit to being a foster parent please consider volunteering in some other way. These children deserve it and you never know what great future you could be providing.