Solutions to the foster care crises.

Art with a Heart To Hold “Home is Where the HeART is”  http://www.artwithaheart.net/

“As a victim of the historical failure of the system I am one of the unknown number of children counted yet unaccounted for and referred to as the thrown away children. I will never forget and I will never stop my ongoing request for mercy that remains denied,” wrote Clifford.

Foster children that age out of the system have a hard time making it in this world. They lack ties to family members and do not have finances to make it on their own. Reports from the Justice Department say that about 75% of the people in jails and prisons came from the foster care system. The Department of Education reports that only about 3% of foster youth ever apply to go to college.

What makes a foster child’s life even worse for them is that throughout their lives in foster homes, they are about 80% of the time prescribed psychotropic drugs “to help them cope”. Once they age out, they no longer have access to their medicines.

Many will turn to street drugs and end up in jail or prison within 2 years of aging out. It is reported that at least 1 in 7 foster children will fall into the hands of human sex traffickers. I think the number is higher because social workers are not required to report missing foster children. There are no amber alerts for them, and city reports show that between 60% to as high as 99% of children rescued in sex trafficking stings were in state custody before they were trafficked. Even the Department of State admits that the U.S. foster care system is a problem.

The Mondale Act created protections for foster children and the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 set up funding for foster care. Today Americans spend about $100 Billion a year to provide for the nations most vulnerable children. Trillions of dollars have also been put into communities through the American Rescue Plan, The Family First Act, the American Family Plan, and countless other Acts that have been made to increase access to quality healthcare and services. Hopefully lawmakers will find a way to make sure that this money is spent where it is needed the most.

States have failed foster children for decades. Every year, since the creation of the foster care program, the Department of Health and Human Services reports that the foster care system failed.  Their reason is always a lack of money for workers and a shortage of workers. Every year Americans pour more money into the system.

So what solutions are there? First, placing children will family or someone that they already know and trusts has proven to provide more stability than foster care where children are almost always placed with strangers often in cities that the children are unfamiliar with. Moving to a new city with strangers can be very disturbing to a child even if they do come from a bad home.

Localizing foster care so that youth do not end up in strange places with strange people far from where they know their way around will also help create more stable lives for children that have to enter the system and prevent children from running away and falling into the hands of traffickers. Localizing foster care may also reduce the need for prescription medicines that are often prescribed to help the children cope with their new lives.

Another solution is to encourage foster youth to attend college and educate them on ways that they can fund their education. Foster children are already eligible to go to college for free so there is no reason for the enrollment of the foster care population to be at only 2 to 3 %. Foster children should be shown how to enroll and receive the funding that they are entitled to. Student financial aid in the United States is funding that assist in covering the costs of post-secondary education. Financial aid is available from federal and state governments, educational institutions, and private organizations. It can be awarded in the form of grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships. In order to apply for federal financial aid, students must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

And last but certainly not least, create stronger families. Strong families build strong communities and strong communities build strong nations. Most of the funding should shift to creating stronger families. Right now, about half of the female foster youth become pregnant before they age out. Perhaps because they long for a family of their own. Sadly, their babies are often taken at birth and placed in the foster care system to be given up for adoption. Once female foster children age out, their children are likely to be taken at birth as well, usually because the parents lack life skills. Programs can be created to teach foster youth life skills that will help them succeed at parenting and even financial stability.

If anyone else wants to offer solutions I would love to hear them. Please share.

Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups in each state.  The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We cannot give legal advice, but we can try and direct you in the right direction with your case. Links to legal services are listed with their states. Please share and let’s grow our groups. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page.

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