Foster Care matters to me, and I think it should matter to you too.
I never wanted to be a foster parent. It’s not that I was against it, but it’s something I just never considered. My wife, before we were even married, shared her desire to help children and families through foster care and adoption. Again, I wasn’t against it, but I didn’t put much thought into it after that conversation. Fast-forward a few years, and my wife brought it up again. “What if we were houseparents?” She showed me a few places online, and I ended up being on board. We packed up all our stuff and our dog, and moved from Burtchville, Michigan to Clinton, South Carolina. Almost 3 years and 67 foster kids later, foster care is my life. We loved being houseparents and loved the privilege of caring for so many amazing kiddos.
That’s why it matters to me, but why should it matter to you?
As of September 30, 2015 there were 427,910 kids in foster care nationwide, a number which has been rising for the past few years (for more national statistics, go here). That’s about the same as the populations of Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia, Charleston, and Rock Hill combined. That’s a really big and scary number, but I’ll try to simplify it. As of last month, there were 4,227 kids in foster care in South Carolina. Overall, South Carolina needs about 1600 additional foster homes to meet the current need (to see county-by-county numbers, go here). Wherever you live, there is a need for foster parents. There are children in your community who need a safe, stable, loving home.
Children who age out of foster care without a forever family are much more likely to end up unemployed, in prison, or pregnant as a teenager. This should matter to you, because if someone can help these kids and change some of these statistics, our communities will be much better off. Less crime, less unemployment and homelessness, less unplanned pregnancies, and many other societal issues that can be improved by a strong foster care community. Being willing to help those in your own neighborhood who may be struggling can have so many benefits beyond just helping a child (which is totally worth it on it’s own). You’re helping a family heal, and a community come together.To put it dramatically: if you care about your community, you should care about foster care. When people come together to improve the lives of children and families, communities improve, families are healed, children have a chance at successful adulthood.
So how can you help? You can become a foster parent. Contact a local agency (I’m partial to Thornwell, since I work there and it’s awesome) and get more information about how you can begin the process. If you can’t become a foster parent, then support foster parents. Find out who in your church, school, or neighborhood are already fostering, and ask them how you can help. Ask your local foster care agency (like Thornwell) or foster parent association what needs they have, and do your best to meet those needs. There are dozens of ways that you can help foster parents around you. If you want more ideas, contact me and I’d love to help!
Long story short: Foster Care matters to me, and I think it should matter to you too.