May is National Foster Care Month. It’s a time to acknowledge awesome foster parents, the work of foster care professionals and the many, many others who help the nearly 430,000 children in the foster care system.
It’s also time to be real. In May, we’ll shine a light on the failures and opportunities in that same foster care system. #FosterFacts cannot be ignored. The more than 20,000 children aging out of foster care without permanent families every year cannot be ignored.
You know what it’s also time for? Solutions. Digging deep to the roots of an imperfect system, and creating lasting change for the children who need it most.
Here’s how we do it:
3 STEPS TO REINVENT FOSTER CARE
1. Keep families together and care for the whole family
It’s a simple concept, really. Pregnant people (and partners, if they have one) should enter into care with their children. Families in crisis would enter the home of a foster family, who in turn would teach them how to be good parents, introduce them to addiction care programs, provide domestic violence support, address neglect — and so on — all while keeping the family unit together and loved. We’d lessen the trauma for children currently entering foster care alone, reducing their 25 percent PTSD diagnosis rate. We’d truly listen to the cries of their mothers by getting her what she needs to succeed as a parent.
2. Ensure all adoption agencies are open to LGBTQ families
We know there is not enough access for LGBTQ families looking to adopt, which means more children wait. (And you know we think this is appalling for many reasons.) Agencies and states unwilling to creating barrier-free access for LGBTQ families should be held accountable through legislation. It’s time for bold legislation that acknowledges well-documented research, honest stories, and the inherent truth that love makes good families.
3. Change the hearts and homes of the 36:1
At any given time, there are as many as 36 families waiting for every one baby who is placed for adoption. What if we could change the hearts of those 36 families by showing them the beauty in adopting older children? What if we provided families with the support and resources necessary to address their fears about handling the challenging effects abuse or neglect of older foster care children? We need to tell the stories of foster care kids in a way that makes them the humans they are — deserving and ready to be loved.
Notice the list isn’t 3 EASY STEPS TO REINVENT FOSTER CARE. That’s because it’s not easy, is it? It’s going to take gut-wrenching, life-long work. It’s going to require turning our processes, institutions and values inside out. Join us in this crucial work to demand better for our foster kids.