Tag archives: Foster Care

Our Foster Care System Is in Trouble. Here’s How We Can Help Fix it.

by Brooke Brown

August 12, 2020

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” (Psalm 127:3-4)

Each of us, despite maybe being older than society’s idea of a child, are still children—children of God. And for many of us, we have had or will have the gift of bringing more children into the world. As Psalm 127 states, children are a reward, a blessing, God’s prized possession. Verse four compares children to that of arrows, meaning they must be carefully shaped and formed, guided by skill and strength, and given direction. It is so important that kids are raised in a loving and affectionate home, attended to by a mother and father, and genuinely cared for.

Unfortunately, there are too many kids who grow up not knowing what affection feels like from a parent, who are abused emotionally or physically, and are given little to no direction and guidance from their parents. For some of these reasons and more, many of these children are removed from their home and placed in foster care. In the U.S. alone, there are currently more than 400,000 children in the foster care system. The prayer is that they might one day be able to return home once their parent(s) are able to take adequate care of them or be adopted into a loving family, extended or otherwise. But in the meantime, there needs to be more attention given to how the foster care system can improve in order to provide a more successful and loving upbringing for these kids.

A little-known fact about foster care is the lack of training for caseworkers working with foster care agencies. A large portion of caseworkers are not provided with professional training before being thrown into the deep end of the system. Because of this, approximately 90 percent of agencies have stated they have difficulty retaining their caseworkers. This is largely due to lack of funding and resources available to agencies and allocated by agencies to properly train their social workers. Title IV-E of the Social Security Act provides more than half of the federal funding for child welfare action. However, this Title does not allocate funds towards investigations of child abuse, hotlines, or other necessary outlets that would be beneficial for children placed in foster care. On top of that, most leaders of foster care programs have expressed that they are given little to no control over how they can spend the federal money, and often times it does not cover the expenses for particular services and needs the child or foster parents may request.

The funding issue creates a trickle-down effect. If caseworkers are not being trained by their agencies due to lack of funding, how then are parents expected to feel confident stepping into the role of being a foster parent for kids in desperate need of a loving family environment? And if children are placed into homes with inadequately trained parents who do not have the option of beneficial programs they can extend to their foster children, the turnover rate of children moving from home to home will increase, creating emotional hardships and attachment issues. If a child comes from a physically abusive and neglectful home, he/she will need to be given adequate attention and care both from the foster parents as well as outside resources such as counseling. Due to lack of funding, a lot of foster parents will take it upon themselves to research and learn ways to interact with a child who has come from a rough upbringing. One potential upside to this is that the child may see their foster parents’ motives in wanting to welcome them and genuinely help them adjust to the transition.

It is so crucial that a child coming into an unfamiliar home with new parents, possibly new siblings, and even a new town, is receiving thoughtful attention and love from their foster parents. The best thing a foster parent can do for a child in foster care is sincerely love them and show them the love of God through their actions and words. “Live out your Christianity in front of them. The way a husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church is the greatest example to set for the child,” said David Bane during my interview with him. David and his wife are treatment foster care parents who foster children with mental deficits or that come from abusive/neglectful homes. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, only 60 percent of children that are abused or neglected receive help. Even if a foster parent is stuck with minimal training and little funds delegated to provide resources for themselves and their foster children, they still have the ability to shape and cultivate what home environment they want their foster child to experience.

So how can we as Christians help to cultivate a healthy foster care culture?

  • If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a foster parent, look into your state’s Foster Care Agencies and how your state receives funding for their programs.
  • In order to advocate for the lives of these children, it starts with asking Congress to reconsider their financing decisions.
  • If you discern that the Lord is calling you to foster, do not be intimidated by the logistics (training, funding, etc.)—be obedient to that calling and create a safe space for a child to be loved and cared for.
  • Support those in your local churches and communities who are stepping into the foster care system by lending them encouragement and prayers.
  • If you’re not ready to become a foster parent but desire to help children in these situations, look into Big Brother Big Sister programs.

Brooke Brown is a Brand Advancement intern at Family Research Council.

Illinois Foster Care System: Leaving No Good Deed Unpunished

by Family Research Council

July 29, 2011

As someone whose extended family has been significantly impacted by the foster care system, this story out of Illinois was of interest to me personally—but the implications for the over 2,000 children involved and for Christians are profound.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported week that the state of Illinois has acted to sever its longstanding relationship with Catholic Charities. The state has found Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services to be in non-compliance with the states new law authorizing civil unions. The Trib reports:

In letters sent last week to Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Peoria, Joliet and Springfield and Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said the state could not accept their signed contracts for the 2012 fiscal year.

Each letter said funding was declined because your agency has made it clear that it does not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which the state says requires prospective parents in civil unions to be treated the same as married couples.

Illinois civil unions law contains exemptions for those religious bodies that do not want to perform or officiate civil unions. But as weve stated elsewhere, so called religious exemptions are usually just a way of greasing the skids to get controversial legislation passed. The exemptions could be challenged in court or be removed by future legislation. In a classic example of dont believe their talking points, Equality Illinois published this statement about the law on their website under a section titled Religious Freedom prior to its passage:

  • This Act would also not impact faith-based adoption agencies or adoption procedures. The Act does not amend the Adoption Act.

Thankfully the Catholic Charities is not taking this lying down. The three agencies in question have filed suit with the Thomas Moore Law Center against the Illinois attorney general and DCFS. Their request is altogether reasonable:

In the lawsuit, the agencies sought the courts permission to preserve their current policy of granting licenses to married couples and single, non-cohabiting individuals and referring couples in civil unions to other child welfare agencies.

Some readers may remember that in 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston ceased doing adoptions rather than violate their conscience and religious convictions by placing children with homosexual couples. We hope and pray that Catholic Charities in Illinois will receive a better legal outcome.

What is fascinating in this debate is that you have the state claiming that the law requires Catholic Charities give homosexual couples in civil unions equal consideration with married coupleseven though the social science data overwhelming demonstrates that children do best when raised by a married mother and father. A cursory reading of the social science makes it obvious that not all family situations are equal in the benefit they provide to children. (See Dr. Pat Fagans work on the MARRI project here, here and here for starters.). And yet the state demands that adoption and foster care agencies treat different family structures as if they were, in fact, the same.

While Catholic Charities works for the undeniable good of placing children in the best family situations available, the state of Illinois has embraced a social experiment wherein the best interests of children becomes subordinate to special interests of a vocal minority.

Finally, its important to remember why the state is involved in adoption and foster care services in the first place: to serve the best interest of the children under its care, not to bestow parenthood on individuals or couples desirous of the title or affirmation. Its about the children. Or at least it used to be in Illinois. Might one legitimately ask when the state will decide that Christians who disagree with normalizing homosexuality are unfit to serve as adoptive or foster parents?

Christians across our nation have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ by welcoming children in need into their families. Our friends at Focus on the Family have some great resources and a model in Colorado for making a difference through adoption and foster care.

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