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Foster care reform needed to save children

Brooke Sherman, Reporter

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Imagine living the majority of your life never knowing if you’re going to have a place to live. Imagine being terrified to go home every night because the family that you’re staying with is unsafe. Imagine being wrongfully accused, just because you’re the foster child.  Imagine the fear of being yanked from house to house, having to live with different strangers month-to-month. For foster children, this is their reality, and they deal with these things every day.

According to AdoptUsKids.org, there are currently more than 400,000 children in the United States foster care system. Most children are placed in foster care temporarily due to parental abuse or neglect.

400,000 children.

The average age of a child in foster care is just eight years old. More than 20,000 children officially “age out” of the system, and leave the foster care system because they never got adopted. These children are at risk of homelessness, poor education and being unemployed.

The majority of foster children stay in the system for an average of three years. Some children wait longer. On average about 20 percent of foster children that are put into the system, wait five or more years to either be adopted or reunited with their families. Yet, not all children are even lucky enough to make it into a foster care home.

The foster care system is broken. A reform of the system is needed.

Child care providers confess that they’re being forced to take on too much. There have been many foster parents and children that are trying to speak up about the issue, but they are not being heard.

One foster care mother spoke out about the system. She told the story of two baby boys that that were both only a few months old. Both of the boys had multiple broken bones, one of them, 18 bones and the other 22 broken bones.

The same foster mother spoke out about having to deal with 22 different child care workers. Over the span of three years, she only had five child care workers stop by and complete routine checkups on the home. This is why the system we have set in place is broken. It all starts there. If these homes are not being monitored, then how is the system going to know what is going on inside them?

Lawsuits have been filed in Washington, D.C., and nine states: Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee and Georgia. The lawsuits are asking judges to supervise entire foster care agencies.

These lawsuits are working to gain more supervision within the foster care system. This is the first step in the right direction. These caseworkers are overloaded, and it is physically impossible to complete the tasks that these agencies are asking them to complete. One case worker recalls having a workload of 54 cases at a single time. Along with the unreasonable amount of workload being handed out another issue is that most of the caseworkers are not properly trained for the cases they are being given.

There was an investigation done recently by BuzzFeed News, which entailed them looking into cases of violent deaths and sex abuse at homes ran by National Mentor Holdings. This is home to the nation’s biggest for-profit foster care companies.

“The reports examined how a National Mentor foster father molested his foster sons for over a decade, while the company was supposed to be monitoring him. In another case, a National Mentor foster mother murdered her two-year-old foster daughter.”

These privately-funded foster care agencies, that so many children today are being placed into, only work for that profit. This means these agencies do not always look into the foster parents as well as they should. This means that kids fall through the cracks and don’t always get placed into safe homes.

If we want the reform that we need then we need to step up. As a society we need to come together, raise awareness and make changes. Foster care is meant to save children from abusive homes but some of these homes are only creating more damage. To save our children’s lives foster care reform is what we need. The time to step up is now.

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Student newspaper of Park University
Foster care reform needed to save children