Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Foster Care: A Crisis Among Us
I recently heard some great news from Alicen Bennett, an Arkansas Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) caseworker and DCFS liaison to The CALL*.
This past January, 28 foster homes opened in Arkansas, meaning in that month alone 28 new families became available to take foster children into their care. A blessing, considering all the hoops that these families must go through -- background checks, medical exams, home studies and training classes.
On the same day I heard that great news, however, I also heard some bad news.
While 28 foster homes opened in January, 48 homes closed.
Do you understand what that means? While 28 foster families have just opened their homes to foster children that desperately need those stable home environments, 48 foster families have closed their homes to those same children that desperately need them.
Here's one more statistic: In 2012, 500 homes opened across the state of Arkansas.
Sadly, in 2012, 480 homes closed.
And another: 3908 children are in Arkansas foster care today. However, only 1132 foster homes are available to those children.
These numbers are unbelievable.
These numbers break my heart.
"The need for foster parents is staggering," says Alicen Bennett. I wholeheartedly agree.
We could point fingers -- at foster parents, at social workers, at DCFS bureaucracy. But what good would that do?
I've got a better idea of what we can do.
First of all, we can pray. Pray for God to move more of His people to consider fostering a child. Secondly, we can give financially or volunteer for a foster care nonprofit like The CALL. Thirdly, we can take the huge step of becoming foster parents ourselves.
In ten years, I pray that states like Arkansas can boast more positive statistics surrounding foster care. I pray that the number of homes available to children would not only equal, but exceed the number of children in need of those homes.
Until then, what will you do about the national foster care crisis?
* The CALL stands for Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime. The CALL is a faith-based non-profit that recruits and trains people from local churches for foster care. The CALL's vision is "to have no waiting children in Arkansas foster care, but instead to have waiting, Christian families ready to take them in."