Understanding the Problem
Foster care begins when a family has experienced ongoing distress that results in an unsafe environment for a child. Distress takes place within disengaged communities that are unable to prevent the outcomes that separate families. Typically distress signals are used to communicate that assistance is needed. Without support from communities and churches through building authentic relationships with hurting families, needs go unseen and unmet. Instead of entering into a families distress at the point of crisis, communities and churches should enter into the picture much sooner through relationship. Until pursuing relationships are valued and prioritized, the sad reality will continue to be, families in distress will go unnoticed until abuse or neglect has taken place. Once removed from their home, children should no longer be at risk for their safety. Though this is often true, they also face the risk of the failure of the system through experiencing isolation, instability, inconsistency and desertion.
Isolation takes place where there is a lack of support for a child that has been removed from their home. When children enter the foster system, they are not simply removed from their parents, but are removed from everything that is normal to them. Oftentimes they are moved to a new home, a new school, a new city, and the anxiety that all these transitions cause can leave the child feeling isolated and alone.
Instability most often takes place when there are not enough families to foster every child in the foster system. When children are removed from their parents and brought into foster care, the goal is to place them in a stable foster home. However, many cities lack enough available foster homes, therefore children end up staying in shelters, or spending nights in CPS offices. This instability only increases the trauma they've already endured.
Inconsistency happens when foster parents and social workers are isolated and pushed to exhaustion, which leads to an inability to sustain care. The foster system is a culture of its own with its own language, laws and values. When families and workers decide to enter into the foster system they are embracing the burden of brokenness that comes with it. Ripples of the abuse and neglect experienced by the children will in turn be experienced by those caring for the kids. The care they provide is emotional, sacrificial, and exhausting. When the community is not there to support those families and workers in their mission, kids are the ones who ultimately lose out; starting over with new homes, new workers, and removing them again from the stable relationships they need to heal.