In the United States, a child is removed from their parent or primary caregiver every two minutes. In September 2015, the government estimated over 430,000 children were in foster care.
Youngsters who find themselves in placement are between the ages of 0 and 17. Of those, 30 percent are cared for by a relative, and nearly half reside in non-relative homes through the foster care program.
When parents and children find themselves under the scrutiny of Child Protective Services, the foster care system claims the ultimate goal is to reunite their family. However, the percentage of those with a reunification plan was 55; leaving almost half of the children without a long-term strategy in place.
How a Child Ends Up in Foster Care
There are numerous reasons why a child could end up in the foster care system. Statistics show that children, who are in danger can be taken care of while their parent undergoes rehab, parenting training or incarcerated. Some children are temporarily removed, while others will never return home.
Teachers, doctors, and psychologists are mandatory reporters, but any adult who suspects a child is in danger should become involved by calling the toll-free anonymous hotline. Breaking the silence is the quickest way to ensure a family gets the help they need.
Some of the things that, if reported, will start the ball rolling on any Department of Human Services involvement:
- A parent needs some time to get themselves together, to go to drug/alcohol rehab;
- Physical or sexual assault against the minor;
- When a child suffers from failure to thrive;
- The loss of their parent(s) with no other legal guardians available.
Single parents often need more help than others. A one-parent home is not a reason for foster care placement, but more than 37 percent of mother-only households live below the poverty level. Statistically, families in these circumstances experience more violence, drug usage, and suicide than those living with more financial stability.
Foster Care System Failures
Less known stories of failure within the system are those kids who spend their childhoods in institutions like, group homes, emergency receiving facilities, and shelters designed to house children temporarily. There is a drastic difference between the number of children in need and available foster care providers.
It is not uncommon for a shelter, like the Hillcrest Receiving Home in San Diego, California, to house twice as many children than the 16-20 bed facility was designed to handle. In 1989, some months the shelter intake was as many as 600 kids, according to Los Angeles Times.
The state’s response to this over this history of overcrowding was to open another facility. The Polinsky Children’s Center is licensed to for 204 beds. Their website indicates that the average intake is at least 300 children.
In Oregon, the Department of Human Services not only reports the significant need for in-home foster care providers but it has public recruitment videos, which the states encourages everyone to share.
There is a critical need for Oregon foster families. You can help us with this important recruitment work by sharing PSA’s through your social media and other distribution outlets. With your help, we can reach the increasing demand of substitute care and keep children and youth in safe and appropriate placements.
While the information above is limited, the need for foster care providers is dire — in every state. For those interested in finding out about the requirements to become a foster parent in their county, they can call the local government agency listed on the state’s website.
By Cathy Milne
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau: Child Welfare Information Gateway (2017) Foster care statistics 2015
Foster Club: Foster Care Facts
Los Angeles Times: Orangewood an Inspiration in Child-Abuse Fight
San Diego County: Polinsky Children’s Center
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Jonathan Lin’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License