Foster care statewide, and even nationally, is being scrutinized, challenged and redefined. The plight of parentless children and youth has been troublesome for thousands of years. In some cultures, it was a value for benevolent families or individuals to care for orphaned children, but in others, these children were taken in as slaves, indentured servants, locked up, or left to fend for themselves. For centuries, there were orphanages or other similar institutions that minimally cared for parentless or discarded children.
Category: Voice of our CEO
One Friday in 1957, just before school was out for the year, my Mom scooped my sister and me up from school unexpectedly. Our Dodge Sierra station wagon--you know the kind with the small fins and turquoise panels--was packed full of stuff; lots of stuff. She said we were off on an adventure; wow, this sounded exciting!
The month of April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, as well as the Month of the Child. It serves as a great platform for discussing the extent of trauma youth all across our country are living with, and how our politicians have showed complete disregard and lack of concern, and, at times, disdain towards the safety and wellbeing of children and youth in this country.
I believe that there is always hope even in times of despair. I have witnessed people experiencing darkness that seems inescapable, and I have seen these persons find hope in the hope of others. Individually, each of us has experienced disappointment, loss, grief and pain. How did we transcend these dark moments? Hope and help imparted through others. Certainly faith is a major ingredient to overcoming adversity, but it is through caring relationships with others that faith is truly manifested.
I have spent the better part of 50 years working in a child welfare and juvenile justice system designed to intervene with youth who have “gone over the falls” and crashed into the rocks below. For decades, our children’s system of care has consumed millions of dollars reacting to child abuse, adverse childhood experiences, delinquent behavior, et cetera, instead of proactively working to stop children and youth from entering the child welfare/juvenile justice system in the first place.
It is beginning to feel like our country is being overtaken by a pervasive, dense, ominous fog which is clouding our ability to see clearly and cause us to lose direction. It is like a subtle delusion, a siren wooing us into a state of self-destructive narcissism and causing us to abandon our foundations of civility, morality, compassion for others, empathy and a sense of common good. Forces of darkness are busy at work undermining and eroding away our stability, planting seeds of anarchy, fracturing and dividing us as a people.
As a child growing up, I had the good fortune to know and observe a wonderful friend of our family – his name was Ralph. He, and his wife Theda, had three children, and for many years our families were pretty inseparable. Growing up with a single parent, my mom, Ralph was kind of a surrogate dad; at least a great adult role model. And I couldn’t have chosen a better one.
Volunteerism should be a big deal in our country. It is universally valued--nobody in their right mind would say disparaging words about volunteers or volunteering. Not everyone can be a philanthropic giver, but most everyone can be a volunteer. You don’t have to have wealth or material resource; you just need to have time, heart and a sense of adventure. Volunteering is not age constrained and can be enjoyed by both the young and old. Volunteering is not only good for society--organizations like the Family Care Network depend on it--but it’s good for you, the Volunteer.
Saying goodbye to 2017 and welcoming 2018 is just another reminder that life is a continuous journey. The Family Care Network celebrated its 30-year journey in 2017. We took the opportunity to look back on our past, giving cause for great celebration of our trials and triumphs. However, I don’t think it’s healthy to dwell too much on the past--we need to continue to create our future.
The past few weeks have been somewhat of a shocker to me; a real hit from the blindside. Every year, the Family Care Network engages the community to provide a lovely holiday for the children, youth and families we serve – all of whom are victims of trauma and unfortunate life circumstances. This year, instead of asking folks to provide specific gifts for specific individuals, we asked people to contribute cash or gift cards so that we could empower our families to care for their own so they could experience the joy of giving themselves.