Wednesday, March 9, 2011

National Foster Care Goals

Today I had a chance to listen in on a conference call with the Obama Administration regarding foster care in the United States. I have to say, it was an encouraging call with some great initial statements to set the tone…
“Child Welfare in the U.S is not a ‘republican” issue or a ‘democratic’ issue…”

“Every child should be placed in a loving, permanent home…this effort is priority”

These statements are music to my hears and even goes along with City Without Orphans mission statement:
To partner and equip churches,  families and social services providers to help children in the foster care system in Fresno County be placed in a loving home.

I want to share some of the items they listed as priority in spending this year not just so we can be educated on how our government is spending money in the child welfare arena, but to challenge our churches and city to get involved. I truly believe that we (the church) can supplement these costs with our resources. Here are a few items shared:

Equipping older foster youth- the average age children who age-out of the foster care system are when they first enter is 10 years. This means that there needs to be expanded services for older children in the system. Not only do they want to better equip these youth who age out at 18 years to be successful in the world, they want to reduce the amount of older children in foster care- creating more permanency.

Post-placement support- It was discussed that families are finding after adoption or placement of a child the resources and support decreases and yet the challenges in the family increase. Providing avenues for families to be supported after the child comes in the home will provide more successful families.

Quality of care- It is important to focus on when children do come into foster care that their experience is positive and does not re-traumatize them. This means better families and social services providers. We can encourage excellence through reminding those who work with foster kids that they should always ask, “Is this in the best interest of the child?”

Where do churches come in on all of this? Here are a few practical things…

Mentor an older child in foster care.

Volunteer your time and skills to coach a young adult who has aged out of the foster care system on life skills.

Consider adopting an older child from the foster care system so they do not have to age out- they have a loving family instead.

Form a support group for post-placement families held at your church. You do not have to have a masters degree to facilitate a group like this- you just have to care enough that you would be willing to help hurting families connect with each other.

Think (and pray) hard before becoming a foster or adoptive parent. If you feel confident that you have the unconditional love and support to give a child- then take a step of faith and do it! We need more people like you caring for our children.

Let’s get involved- for our kids!

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