I have always been told that there is safety in numbers. Whether taking a late night bus ride, going to a night club or simply taking a tour of a new city the mantra is still the same – it’s safer to be a part of a group. Does this still ring true when we consider the youth in the foster care system in our country? The numbers of children and youth in foster care in the United States has been steadily on the incline. Let’s take a look.
The Foster Care Numbers
According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) FY 10 data October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010, there were 408,425 children in foster care on September 30, 2010. Four hundred eight thousand, four hundred and twenty five children and youth ages 0 to 20 years were in foster care last September. The largest percentage (8%) was age 17.
Where were these children living?
Forty-eight percent (48%) or 194,900 were placed in a foster home with a non-relative.
Nine percent (9%) or 36,607 were in an institution.
Six percent (6%) of those youth or 25,066 were placed in group homes.
Two percent (2%) were runaways.
There is no safety is these numbers – they are UNACCEPTABLE.
Why The Increase?
Child abuse and neglect are not new phenomenon. Are there really more cases of abuse and neglect that warrant removal of a child from their home? It often seems that way as the cases that make it into the headlines are becoming more gruesome. Could it be that we have succeeded in raising awareness so we have come to a place where there is increased reporting? That may hold a bit of truth also but neither of these things gets to the root of the problem. What we need to ask ourselves is how do we better protect our children?
There Is NO Safety In These Numbers!
How do we protect our children? Helping couples plan pregnancies, offering more parenting classes and stress management workshops, access to better health care and mental health services, improving the education system and offering quality after school programs, creating jobs that pay living wages, strengthening laws against pedophiles and abusers, and any number of other things may have an impact. There is no magic bullet available to keep our children safe. One thing I know for sure is that we cannot let the conversations cease. It takes a village to raise a child in a safe, nurturing home and community. THANK YOU to all of the organizations and individuals who are positively impacting the lives of children and families daily.
Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic enrichment opportunities to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.