I spent most of the first week of May doing public policy advocacy in Washington DC, something I have done for nearly a decade. Wow, was this year different! As I flew back to California, these four words resonated in my thoughts: Fear, Complacency, Conviction and Courage.
Category: Voice of our CEO
“Foster Care” has come a long way over the past couple of centuries and is yet experiencing another significant transformation. Foster care in the USA has its origins in English Poor Law, which basically allowed an abandoned or orphaned child to be forced into indentured servitude until they became of age. Kids basically became slaves for the individuals housing them. The argument in favor of this practice was that this arrangement provided children with the “basic skills they needed to survive in life.” America’s first foster child was Benjamin Eaton, age 7, in the Jamestown Colony.
I hope that I’m not the only one who finds it very disturbing that the wellbeing of children and youth in this country is ascribed such a low priority. Among all nations of the world, the USA ranks number two for the highest child abuse rate per capita, far worse than countries like Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh. Of the 35 developed countries, the United States ranks 34th in its child poverty rate. Add to these rankings that we also have one of the highest infant mortality rates and very low academic achievement, and our country isn’t painted in a very pretty picture.
Given the immense wealth and resources we have in this country, there is no excuse for our kids to suffer and fall short the way that they do. Unfortunately, our many shortcomings can be easily explained – our Policymakers and power brokers simply don’t give a ##@&!
It should go without saying--regardless of political affiliation--it is far better for our communities to solve local needs rather than depend upon the government. Right now on the Central Coast there is a significant need which needs families and individuals to rally together to solve!
To put it bluntly, there are not enough individuals and families to care for and meet the needs of the children and youth in our local foster care system. This shortage represents a significant community need--these are our kids who, through no fault of their own, have been removed from their families. These children and youth need our help.
I find it rather fascinating that Treatment or Therapeutic Foster Care is finally coming into vogue in California; I mean, the state is 30+ years late to the party. Seriously.
It goes without saying, Social Workers are one of the most unappreciated, undervalued, underpaid and unacknowledged group of workers in our society. And yet, as I have previously written, every one of our lives is better because of them. Health and Human Services organizations like the Family Care Network could not perform our public benefit activities or positively change lives without the dedication, skill and passion of Social Workers, and we are only one of the multiple disciplines dependent on them.
We live in an era where many people possess a strong dislike, distrust or outright hostility towards government. I don’t really share this belief. I like policemen and firefighters. I value clean, safe air and water, food which is safe to eat, buying products which are safe to use, armed forces to protect us from hostility, beautiful national parks to visit, excellent public schools for our kids, good roads to drive on, protection from monopolies poised to rip us off, and services to the poor, most vulnerable and fragile members of our society. I don’t mind being made to buy car insurance or health insurance or paying my fair share of taxes because I know it benefits everyone.
Many of you know that the Family Care Network has commenced an extended celebration of our 30 year anniversary which will be August 21, 2017. For this campaign, I have written a story per year. Beginning the first week of January, we released our first year story and a supporting video, and will continue to do so weekly for 30 weeks. This is been a very fun and exciting project for a variety of reasons.
The New Year, 2017, has arrived with much trepidation. We have a new President taking office who is loathed, feared, or both, by many in our very polarized country. California is launching a new foster care “reform” wrought with flaws; so underfunded and ill thought out that it will take a miracle to produce any real reform. The majority of Americans are suffering from wage stagnation, with no indications from the corporate, business or public sectors of any relief or interest in fixing the problem. Our government has become an oligarchy, ruled by a few ultra-wealthy who have bought off our politicians. “Affordable Housing” has become an oxymoron, being unavailable and unachievable in most communities. America’s “safety net” is on the chopping block, including Socials Security, Medicare, healthcare and education. Congress doesn’t believe in global warming and wants to gut all of the controls to protect our air, water and environment. Nuclear proliferation is being proposed and long-term strategic alliances designed to keep the world safer, are in peril!
A week or so before Christmas, my wife decided to hire a cleaning service to help get prepared for several large gatherings and family coming to stay from out of town. The company she used was very reputable and had great referrals. During the period of time the cleaners were at work, my wife engaged one of them in conversation and what she learned was quite disturbing. This lady has two children, the oldest being 11, and was basically homeless. She indicated they spent most nights in the homeless shelter and couch surfed whenever they could. Sometimes they had to sleep in their car. She wasn’t sure what she was going to do for Christmas, where they would be or how to get gifts for her kids. Financially, she receives a fairly decent wage, but is being paid under the table. Consequently, she has no pay receipts needed to obtain housing. The lady indicated that she did not want to quit because well-paying jobs are scarce in our area and she felt she could not take care of her family on minimum wage. She is a citizen and is not, does she want to be, on public assistance. In this day and age, situations like this is are far too common. As the gap continues to grow between the rich and poor, and the middle class erodes away, we are losing one of the essentials of life – the ability for everyday folks to have a place to call HOME!