When you hear the term crisis, what do you think? Do you think about almost 500,000 children in foster care in the U.S.? Do you realize that Kansas is being sued because of so many children with over 100 different placements? Yes, there is a crisis in the United States, and it is the foster care system.
Virginia ranks near the bottom in getting children into adoptive homes before they age out of foster care; in fact, 500 children age out each year. This means they leave any prospective family situation still in need of the basic relationships necessary to be successful in life. More so, the Children’s Home Society of Virginia says “It’s important to know that this is an on-going struggle in Virginia. Since at least the year 2000, the highest ranking we have received was 48th. In fact, from 2000-2013, we were ranked 50th. While we climbed to 49th in 2014 and 48th in 2015, we have fallen back down to 49th for 2016 (the latest year for which data is currently available).”
What does this mean for those in the foster system? At the very least the outcome for children who age out is not promising and, at the most, they will continue through life without the contacts, relationships, and resources needed to experience true independent living. According to Virginia’s Kids Belong, 89% of teenagers will become homeless, pregnant, or drug addicted within two years of aging out.
However, there is a better way to care for families in crisis and their children. On July 1 a new idea begins in Virginia called Safe Families for Children. Legislation signed this spring will allow families in crisis to place their children voluntarily with Safe Families for Children. This will mean that they will be surrounded by Circles of Support made up of a Host Family, a Family Friend, a Family Coach, and a Resource Friend. The goal will be to catch, support, and strengthen families before children are put into foster care.
Because Safe Families for Children takes no government funding and no one is paid for their service, the true essence of caring for another with nothing to gain is displayed. This paves the way for organic, substantive, and lasting relationships to be built.
For centuries, the church followed and obeyed its mandate to care for vulnerable children and the weak. However, about a hundred years ago, the church stepped back, causing the government to step in. It is now time for the church to exert its rightful role once again.
Mr. Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, says that there is no one more vulnerable than a child without a stable and safe family. Safe Families for Children is looking for churches who will step into this calling and join us in caring for “the least of these.” To get involved or for more details, please contact Ray Moore at email@example.com