By Show Hope

Every 18 seconds, a child becomes an orphan. Consequently, these children are forced to face frightening questions like, “Who will take care of me? Where will I sleep? What will I eat?” In the US, this situation is often in play when forces outside a child’s control like abuse or neglect bring them into the custody of the state. While the best solution to this problem would be to alleviate the factors that break down a child’s family of origin, offering a foster care solution that is reliably safe and nurturing is vital to addressing the needs of some of our nation’s most vulnerable children. To better understand the world of foster care, here are three things you should know:

1. How It Works

The foster care system is designed to provide a safe, temporary residence for children who have been subjected to abuse, neglect, or other factors in their family of origin that place them at high risk of harm. When a child enters foster care, they are immediately placed with a licensed foster family, a biological relative, or a group care facility. Most often, this transition is quick and unexpected by the child. Each child is assigned to a specific social worker who creates a permanency goal and a reunification plan, working with the court and the birth family if possible to establish a safe living environment. If the situation does not permit reunification with the birth family, the social worker sets up a plan of long-term fostering with the hope of adoption.

2. Why It’s Needed

In the United States, there are roughly 400,000 children in foster care at any given time. When the state is able to provide the children with a safe family unit through a loving foster care placement, the children are given the space to find healing in the nurture and safety of a family. Without great foster families, law enforcement officials, social workers, and volunteers, the outcome for children in foster care would be fearfully uncertain. A safe haven is an incredibly important resource to children as their reunification and/or a permanency plan is created.

3. What You Can Do

Perhaps the best place to start is to learn, read, and ask questions about the current US foster care system and the children who find themselves there. By learning more about the foster care system, the legalities, the challenges, and even how to become a foster parent, you will be able to more clearly discern how you can be a positive and active voice for children. If you feel called to become a foster parent, know that this is a decision that requires a great deal of commitment, patience, grace, prayer and support…but is a huge need. Children who come into foster care have already experienced varying degrees of trauma. Understanding these needs and being able to enter into them meaningfully with the child takes great time and commitment. Show Hope offers Empowered to Connect conferences and pre- and post-placement resources that offer great insight into how to best serve and engage children who come from difficult beginnings. Empowered to Connect conferences seek to equip families, churches, and professionals to bring hope and healing to adopted and foster children. This conference is a great opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of the foster care system. For more information and registration, please visit: showhope.org/connect

Everyday, there are thousands of children entering foster care who need the healing and care of a loving family. What will you do to help?

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