We have reached the end of May and National Foster Care Awareness Month, a well-deserved acknowledgment of the incredible, selfless work done by the thousands of individuals and families providing family-based treatment, care and supervision. Having worked with Foster Parents for over 40 years, I have unwavering respect for these children’s champions, along with some strong opinions about our foster care system.
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I’m sure we’ve all heard a lot of different words to describe foster parents and/or foster parenting. Hopefully phrases such as, “hearts of gold” and “selfless heroes” outnumber the negative and inaccurate sentiments that too often plague this noble and challenging life choice many (but not enough) make.
Sadly, some kids just get dealt a bad hand in life, through no fault of their own. Clay was one of those kids. He first ended up in foster care when his parents were arrested for using and selling drugs. At the time, Clay’s aunt and uncle stepped forward to give five year old Clay a home. But after many years with the family, Clay’s uncle was arrested for domestic violence and his aunt, severely traumatized, could no longer care for Clay. Now 15, Clay was again placed into foster care for his safety.
I named the “Family Care Network” with a specific intent. FAMILY is our most important social institution and every effort should be made to support and strengthen families. A society exhibiting the disintegration of Family, is a society at great risk! The health of families is the most important ingredient to a healthy civil society. The stronger our family structure, the stronger and healthier we are as a nation. There is no disagreement--every child needs a healthy family! Let’s do our best to make sure this happens.
As I stated in Part One, America’s system for caring for foster children is in serious need of change. The system is based on archaic practices, often contrary to the best interest of children and contradictory to current science; and by and large, does more damage than benefit to children! But, I do believe there is the will and opportunity to improve our Child Welfare-Foster Care system, and here is how we should do it.