Dear next President,
Hello, I am Jean Held from Jefferson Middle College in Portland, Oregon. My current issue with the US society is the foster system. More than half a million children are in foster care in the United States today which, according to Child Welfare League of America, roughly doubles the number of kids from the mid 1980s. In 2014 alone, more than 650,000 people under the age of 18 had been or still are in the foster system. Over 23,000 of these kids, will never get adopted and will age out of the foster system alone, without a family. And I believe, that's a crime.
According to Project MMH, more than 56,000 children in foster care are places in group homes or institution placements. The problems with group homes is the children tend to get forgotten or ignored in them. The needs for the kids are pushed aside for something easier for the system. They get placed in foster homes and receive no love. And yes, when a worker comes to check the home to make sure everything is going well, it’s normally a planned visit that the guardians have been informed about a week or more in advance. Which means they can change anything they need to before the worker gets there. The visits change nothing and prove nothing on what’s actually happening inside the house.
The majority of kids in the foster system are very young, despite common belief. In fact, the average age of kids in foster care is nearly 9 years old. In 2014, the states failed to reunite more than 22,000 teens, with their families or find them a permanent home to be placed in, causing them to aged out of foster care, as they got “too old”. In 2014, of the 415,000 children in foster care, more than 18,000 had case goals of emancipation, or aging out after leaving foster care without a permanent family. That’s a lot of teens without a place to stay or a home to live in. Some of these kids might be able to get a job and place to live, but the majority will end up homeless and alone.
We need to put a stop to this. We need to show these teens that we do care, they do matter, and we are trying to help them. With how many kids there are in the system, we might not be able to find them all a home, but we need to find a way to set them up for a better and brighter future. If that means spending more government money on better education or things like that, it needs to happen.
A concerned Jefferson Student, Jean