I want to write this post to share with you some of the recent facts we learned about our city of Fresno's foster care system. This is not a post that I wish you to read and complain about how broken the "system" is, even though it's tempting. The purpose of the post is not to talk down on the majority of hard working social workers and service providers who are overwhelmed. This post is to start to educate our churches and community about how costly it is when we do not step in and take part in caring for these kids. Kids do not solely belong to the care of the government...the leaders of our city are even coming to terms with this.
As of January 2011 Fresno County has 2,100 children in the foster care system. This means they are either being placed in a licensed foster family, with a relative or group home.
Currently, 23% of these 2,100 children are placed with a relative. If a child cannot be cared for by their biological parent(s) then the department of social services says that they should be placed with a relative first, if possible. Fresno County has a goal of increasing their relative placement (this could be someone such as a grandmother or aunt and uncle) to 50% this year. We have seen that one of the hesitancy for family taking placement can be the lack of support they have.
Okay church, so how can we step in and help these relative care providers? First, there needs to be people who are willing to step in and give reprieve when families need it. Respite care is not readily available to relatives caring for children in the foster care system.
Recently Daniel and I have decided that we want to help families caring for foster children by starting to become licensed for foster care this Spring. Church, would you be willing to join us in sending the message to these families that they are supported and we will babysit their foster kids for free? If so, check out the link to classes:
Did you know that Fresno County spent 20 Million Dollars last year on group homes? Did you know that it does not have to be that way? With the right kind of families and the proper support it is possible for these kids to be in families. How do I know? Because Orange County Department of Social Services allowed Saddleback Church to partner up with them to help kids in their county's foster care system. Saddleback recruited so many families to become foster and adoptive parents that they are about to run group homes out of Orange County. That is right. There are virtually no more group homes.
The same thing can happen in Fresno. There are 400 Christian churches in Fresno. Let's do the math...
God is big, and He wants to use His people to do a BIG thing in Fresno County foster care system. Join Him in His work! We are getting baby steps closer to that heavenly city...a city without orphans.