This is the question I asked myself when I first became a foster parent and was introduced to the everyday realities of the foster care system. When I entered the world of child welfare and looked carefully at the dismal outcomes for children who had experienced foster care, it was evident that there is a heavy price to pay for idly standing by and allowing our most vulnerable children to remain invisible. The children are taking a direct hit. Families and communities are greatly impacted as well.
Recently I read an interview with William Bell in the Casey Family Services’ newsletter VOICES. In it Mr. Bell, President and CEO of Casey Family Programs, said, “ If nothing changes in our child welfare system between now and the year 2020 nearly 14 million children will be confirmed as victims of child abuse or neglect. If nothing changes over this same period, approximately 9 million new children will enter the foster care system in America. Approximately 300,000 children will “age out” of the foster care system with the majority not adequately prepared for adulthood. But the most shocking factor is that if nothing changes with the child welfare system between now and the year 2020, approximately 22,500 children will die from child abuse or neglect in this country. Most of these children will die before their fifth birthday.”
That is the reality our children face. You and I have the knowledge and the power to reduce those numbers dramatically. All we need to do is begin engaging in our own backyard. It’s that simple. Support an existing program, create a new one, begin to care. Reach out to those around you. Bless them, weave innovative new safety nets under them, strengthen them. Our children are voiceless and powerless. They do not vote. They count on the responsible adults in their communities to do the right thing. Let’s show them that we consider them worthy and valuable. Begin your re-envisioning process today!