Dear Next President,
I am here to address an ongoing problem that seems to constantly be pushed to the side. Foster care is something that many people aren’t truly aware of & unfortunately there is so much that goes on behind the scenes. Most people take a look & think, “Wow, how fortunate are we to have a system where kids are taken care of by ‘volunteers’”. However, these people have the wrong impression. Our foster care system has become more of a foster fraud system. Children are thrown into homes regardless of whether or not they are safe, social workers claim to have too many cases & not get adequate pay, there are not enough foster families out there, & group homes are simply just a “go to” when the child doesn’t have an immediate foster family.
On June 25th, Sally Schofield-the foster mother of Logan Marr-was found guilty of wrapping the five year old’s body with forty two feet of duct tape during a “timeout”, causing the little girl to suffocate to death. Six weeks before she was killed, Logan was visiting her birth mother, when in the presence of a child welfare worker (who was supposed to supervise the visit), Logan complained that her foster mother was hurting her. “She did his to me & I cried cause it hurts me,” the child is heard saying on a video tape. Despite this information, there was no immediate investigation & Logan’s child welfare worker failed to make a required quarterly visit to the foster home.
Everywhere around the country, child welfare workers say they are overwhelmed, or have too many cases. Some even complain they are not provided adequate training. All say they are underpaid. Everyday thousands of kids suffer from abuse or neglect because of other people's’ excuses. While social workers may be underpaid, many do not realize that social workers get paid extra per child taken away from their parents (How Child Protection Services Buys & Sells Our Children). When CPS sees children, they don’t really see children, they see dollar signs. They know that the more children they take away from “unsafe” homes, the more money they will make. With that being said, would they truly care about the condition of the foster home they will place the child in? Most of the time, children's’ voices aren’t heard because they’re just kids” or “they’re just exaggerating”. However, neglect, abuse, & death is far from an exaggeration.
According to the Adoption & Foster Care Analysis & Reporting System, there are about 415, 129 kids in foster care each year. The ratio for kids who enter verses leave the system is about 264,746 kids who enter the 238,230 who leave the system. This means that in the US, a child enters the foster care system every two minutes & every 10 seconds a child in foster care is abused. Children in foster care have a very hard time trusting people & because of this it becomes hard to build strong relationships.Awareness of the flaws of the foster care system will encourage parents to become foster families allowing the children to have a greater chance of being adopted. Many times these children question whether or not they are loved that is a question no child should ever ask.
Group homes are often a “go to” when there is no foster parent to take in a child. ACFARS states that more than 56,000 children in foster care are placed in group homes. Group homes may seem as a good way to place children with no place to go, however, they are very expensive. “Group settings are about seven to ten times more expensive per child than placement with a family”. Children in group have stated that it feels more like a business than a home. There are licenses & certificates plastered all over the wall instead of family pictures. (Is It Time to Start Shutting Down Group Homes for Troubled Children?) Instead of using this money towards group homes, the money should be used to encourage other families to become foster parents & even adopt.
We often hear people tell young kids or teens that “we are the future generation”. When we hear this phrase we often think of other peers who have families & stable homes, however we must realize that the foster children are also apart of this next generation. Once a child turns eighteen years old, they are kicked out of the foster care system & now must live on their own. They often have nowhere & no one to go to & therefore 1 in 5 foster children will become homeless (ACFARS). These kids are constantly being switched from place to place that [if] by the time they age out of the system, they will have missed out on crucial life lessons that most kids learn in a stable home. Some aged out foster kids do not have jobs so they may steal food, & it is not because they are bad kids, but because they’re hungry & nobody was there to teach them the life long skills they need.
While the foster care system is far from perfect there are things we can do to protect our future generation. Using federal taxes, a portion of it should go to the foster care system, including funding for better training programs for CPS, create new homes for aged out foster youth, & create a mandatory group session where foster children are taught life long lessons & skills. In addition, the government should require biweekly visits to a psychologists for both the foster child & foster family. Lastly, CPS should be mandated to check in weekly on the foster family & child & if failed to do so, a consequence should be enacted. These children apart of our future generation & rather than let them sink, we must teach them to swim.