The Children Caught in the Middle

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There are over half a million children in the foster care system in the United States today and I am partially to blame.  As a board member of SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) I know that our organization, through the DSS and courts, is responsible for making recommendations that sometimes call for removing endangered children from their family members.

I can’t imagine anything more frightening to a child than being taken from their family and placed in a home with total strangers.  Despite the abuse, most children desperately want to stay with their natural family.  However, over 40% of children in foster care are with non-family members.

A very close friend of mine has been a foster child his whole life.  Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, he lived with a couple he still calls his parents after 46 years yet they never adopted him because he was their source of income.  Some of his stories would make you cry; not just because they are tough to hear, but because you realize that even the little morsels of care he received made him grateful.  He defends them to this day despite it all.

Thankfully, most foster parents provide a loving safe haven for children.  According to the non-profit organization FosterClub, abuse is the number one social concern among teens in the U.S.  Clearly a foster home offers a sense of protection.  But, beyond the fear of abuse, how do foster children cope with the typical struggles that go along with growing up? 

Thanks to organizations like FosterClub, there are wonderful resources available for foster children.   FosterClub is a non-profit organization created to “provide encouragement, motivation, information, education, and benefits for foster youth.”  Their 3 websites:  FosterClub.com, FosterClub.org and Fyi3.com were created for a place for kids to got to ask questions, learn about other successful foster youth, share opinions about their own foster experiences, get recognition and support for overcoming obstacles, enter contests and more according to their website.

They also provide publications to help the youth,  events especially for the youth, and even an outreach program where foster kids can work with child welfare professionals to develop effective ways to communicate wtih foster children.

FosterClub.com servers as their primary communication tool with youth and is a “hub of information related to foster care, including articles written by young people..message boards, contests and even biographies of famous people who grew up in foster care.  It’s youth-friendly, interactive, and available 24/7”.

FYI3.com is a website designed for youth preparing to transition out of foster care.  It offers an incredible array of resources to help the youth become independent.

FosterClub.org  is their website designed for adults; particularly those who support and care for young people in foster care.

In a world where foster youth may feel different, alone or isolated, it is so important for them to know there are such great resources available just for them. 

Want to learn more about how foster care works:

How Does the Child Welfare System Work?
http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/factsheets/cpswork.cfm

A Child’s Journey Through the Child Welfare System
http://pewfostercare.org/docs/index.php?DocID=24

How it Works: The Foster Care System
http://people.howstuffworks.com/foster-care.htm

A Family’s Guide to the Child Welfare System
http://www.cwla.org/childwelfare/familyguide.htm

Foster Care Glossary of Terms
http://www.fosterclub.com/fostercareFacts/glossary.cfm

Foster Care Questions & Answers for Youth
http://www.fosterclub.com/fostercareFacts/QA.cfm

Diane

4 Responses to “The Children Caught in the Middle”

  1. kelleyz April 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm #

    I will forward this to my sister who has 2 children from the foster care system, both arrived to her late in their childhood, and as such there are many issues they are all dealing with. Thanks Diane!

  2. DianeAurit April 28, 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    Kelly, I’m so glad this information will be helpful to your sister!

  3. Lola April 28, 2008 at 6:46 pm #

    Diane, the situation you described about a 46 year old who was a foster child all his life makes my heart ache…I affirm the nobility of his defending the only parents he has ever known, but I’m sad when I think of how they reduced the gift of his presence in their lives to a meal ticket.

  4. DianeAurit April 29, 2008 at 3:56 am #

    Lola, I guess in his mind it is better to have them as “parents” (although his “father” died years ago” than to feel totally alone. His is a remarkable story.

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