just the facts, ma’am

Thursday, May 2, 2013

NFCM-800x600To kick off National Foster Care Month, I’m going the facts and statistics route. Just a few, because I know that sometimes statistics seem sterile and cold. It numbs us to the reality of what’s happening. That doesn’t make them unimportant. Sometimes I think we just need to see the numbers.

HHS uses a reporting tool called the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), and while there are lots of differing numbers surrounding foster care and adoption, these are the numbers that the US government has collected and is using. You can click the link above to see more reports and information.

Kids in foster care in the United States: approximately 400,000
Average age: 7.7 years old
Average time kids spend in foster care: 14 months
Kids waiting to be adopted from foster care (meaning that the ‘case’ is over and parental rights have been terminated – this kids are legally orphans, wards of the state): just over 100,000
Average amount of time those kids have been waiting: 2 years

2 years spent as a legal orphan. Regardless of the fact that the kids in foster care typically do still have living parents, once parental rights are terminated, they will not remain in contact with their parents at all. Those 100,000 children are children without families and without permanent homes.

Lest you think that these are just statistics, and it seems impersonal to you to use them, I have to remind you that these statistics are from 2011. MY kids were in foster care in 2011. 2 of those 100,000 kids waiting for permanency were mine. It is a big number, but it’s not impersonal. That number represents real children full of hurt and pain and needing someone to just stand in the gap for them.

The question facing all of us this May when we spend time focusing on foster care: who is on the side of those 400,000 kids? Is there anyone? I love working with the system, but it is broken. I love my children’s biological families, but they are broken. Who is going to step in and take the time to just love one of these kids? To provide them with a safe house to come home to each day? To help them to be able to have a childhood that isn’t driven by fear and basic survival instincts? To teach them they are valuable?

Maybe it’s you.

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