(3BL Media/Justmeans) Many children can spend years or even at times, their entire childhoods with foster caregivers, enjoying every benefit of the stability and support they should normally expect from birth families. All children need and deserve a strong, supportive family. Fostering provides a safe haven and allows the professionals to work, for as long as it takes, on the best outcome for the child. It is not a second-rate solution, and continues to provide a positive, long-term substitute family experience for thousands of children. Yet, for the nearly half-million children in foster care in the U.S. on any given day, the connection to a safe, loving, and nurturing family is too often lost.
The average age of these children in waiting to be fostered and loved is seven. Yet, sadly, there are few families who come forward to foster as some are traumatised by costly failed attempts to adopt abroad, and therefore may not be ready to risk fostering a U.S. child, only to lose guardianship later to birth parents whose parental rights are restored. However, things could be changing. It is possible that domestic foster care adoption will increase in America as countries like Russia and South Korea, both major suppliers of children to the U.S., seek to limit or completely ban inter-country adoption. Already, international adoptions have slowed, falling from a high of 22,991 in 2004 to 9,319 in 2012.
When vital foster systems are not available to children who need homes, then the children suffer, and the likelihood that they will come out of the system to adulthood marked by poor outcomes increases. This is why Keystone Human Services, a leader in supporting vulnerable populations since 1972, is currently seeking families and individuals who are willing to temporarily host a young boy or girl who cannot currently live at home.
Families who are willing to open their homes and hearts have the opportunity to change a child’s life. They receive training and round the clock support from Keystone’s experts, as well as compensation for their efforts. Participating families need to be able to provide a private bedroom, meals and practical support for the child’s participation in school, doctor’s appointments, community activities and all the other things you need growing up.
Host family arrangements are typically designed for a specified period of time, yet the dividends often last a lifetime. Countless children in crisis are patiently waiting for a warm refuge and kindness to change their life. It’s easy to imagine what a real home might mean to a young person who has challenges or who must be removed from his or her family through no fault of their own. As a society we need to value and support foster carers and families. Society has a responsibility towards these children.
Photo Credit: Mike Baird
*This post originally appeared on Justmeans