Foster parents save the lives of many kids. They take in children who come from abuse, from neglect and from horrific circumstances and range from the age of newly born to 18. Some foster kids maintain a lifelong relationship with their foster families and others are officially adopted by them.
There are half a million American children in foster care. Child welfare agencies place children of all ages, religions, races and cultural backgrounds with families every day. Families must go through rigorous training and background checks in order to qualify as a foster parent and they receive financial compensation for taking in a foster child. Many also use their own money to provide extras for the child, in terms of clothing, school or sport supplies and occasional vacations. The ultimate goal of foster care is to provide a familial home for the child, until her biological family is willing and able to care for her. Adoption is also a goal.
But it is no secret that the foster care system is deeply flawed. Abuse is common, by some foster parents, against the kids they promised to nurture. And other foster parents find themselves overwhelmed, unable to deal with the fallout that abuse to the child has caused.
According to the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, "Children are 11 times more likely to be abused in State care than they are in their own homes."
And according to National Association of Social Workers, 80% of prison inmates were in the foster care system at some stage of their lives.
Child welfare agencies are often understaffed and underfunded. There have also been many documented cases of child welfare officers fraudulently claiming to check up on children in care, or investigating claims of abuse. Cases of missing foster children have made national headlines - one foster child in Florida, Rilya Wilson was missing for a year before social services checked up on her. Her caretaker was ultimately charged with her murder. Florida authorities consequently admitted than hundreds of others foster kids are also missing.
And "Aging Out" is also a huge problem. Children age out of the foster care system, have no families and many end up homeless, in prison, or addicted, due to their support system being cut-off once they turn 18.
But many foster parents are a gift to children in need. This month - thank a foster parent or consider becoming one.
For more information, click here : www.fostercaremonth.org
Are you a product of the foster care system, or have you fostered? Tell us your story!
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