At any given time, there are roughly 435,000 children in the U.S. foster care system. Children are removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect, and placed in foster homes. The duration of care varies on a case by case basis; sadly some children never reunited with their biological family. According to current population statistics, if there was a city consisting of only children served by the foster care system, it would be the 30th largest city in the United States. On a local scale children in foster care would populate our suburban cities–Round Rock, Georgetown, Leander, Cedar Park, Hutto, Pflugerville, Lakeway, Dripping Springs, Buda, Bee Cave, and Westlake.
RELATED READING :: There’s an Overwhelming Need for Foster Care Families
As mothers, we feel a deep sense to protect our children. Child abuse is so difficult to comprehend. It’s heavy stuff we’d rather not think about. According to Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, there are over 27,000 children in foster care. Over 6,000 children are legally available for adoption in Texas. Yes, 6,000 children here in Texas need families. And each day, there are youth aging out of the foster care system with no place to go. Many of these children end up homeless living on the streets. Texas is in dire need of foster parents.
While no one is truly prepared to handle this situation, some families are better equipped to become foster parents. Parents who have experience in adoption, trauma based therapy, mental health, child development and special needs better understand the complexities of foster care. My husband and I fit this description. Last week we officially became a licensed foster family in the state of Texas. Experiencing every emotion from excitement to sheer panic. We continue to give each other pep talks daily because this decision will forever impact our lives and the lives of our young daughters. I read Elle Flower’s quote to remind me of our why, “Often times as parents we want to help people as long as it doesn’t impact our own children. But maybe we should be doing the opposite. Helping people so boldly, so radically that it PROFOUNDLY impacts our children.” It would be a lie to say I’m not terrified. I know that there are big challenges ahead, yet feel comfort in knowing our village eagerly wait to support us.
A statistic from The Archibald Project shares that 5% of foster youth experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That’s 2x the rate of war veterans in the United States. Our foster youth need access to better mental health services and immediate interventions. Another study conducted by the CDC shows that one of the most effective ways to mitigate the long term impacts of childhood trauma (for foster youth and others), is 1 positive relationship with a nurturing and caring adult. Just 1 positive relationship can make all the difference.
While your family may not be equipped to be a foster family there are so many ways you can provide support to our foster care system:
- Volunteer with organizations empowering families while they work towards getting their children out of Foster Care
- Become a C.A.S.A. Volunteer (help represent foster children in court)
- Become a certified Foster Baby Sitter (this requires is a small amount of paperwork and a background check)
- Become a mentor to youth in Foster Care
- Take meals, set up meal train, send gift cards to local foster families
- Shop from an online registry for local foster families
- Listen and support foster parents
- Help foster families with every day chores (lawn care, grocery shopping, cleaning)
- Donate new or like new items (clothing, toys and or children’s furniture) to local foster agencies for children in care
Collectively we can provide love and safety to children for as long as they may need. We can support families who are able to open their homes. While it’s hard to face the realities of foster care, we can make a difference for a child in need.