What I Do -
I work in the foster care field at a Christian foster agency. My job is to recruit and train foster parents and work with CPS to place kids in homes. I’m new to the field. Basically, I have a lot of retail experience and a smattering of management experience, event planning, etc. It’s been a refreshing and inspiring change. My wife and I have been wanting to be foster parents for a few years and I would like to go back to school for social work, so when this position opened up I was very excited. It seemed like an ideal oppotunity.
So, after one month of on the job training I was a little rougher for the ware, but I knew that I was where I was supposed to be. Each day I learned more and more about the need for foster care, the quirks and challenges of the system, and the tragic stories of children. There were so many children (stories as numerous as cattle on a ranch) who had undergone so many hardships. I read e-mail after e-mail of kids who had survived all kinds of abuse. At times it was (and still is) overwhelming.
The Numbers -
The more I learned the more I became heavy with the weight of the need. I thought, if people knew what I knew about the foster care system there wouldn’t be this kind of epidemic of homelessness. The numbers are staggering. Did you know that there are currently over 500,000 kids in care in America, but only just over 150,000 foster homes for them all to go? That would mean that every foster home would need to make room for five foster children to house them all. Did you know that in the state of Texas once a child has been placed in the foster system they are eligible for free tuition from any state college? However, only about half of those kids in the system make it to their graduation.
Unfortuneately, we don’t always connect with numbers. I heard a friend of mine say once, ‘The death of a man is a tragedy, but the death of thousands is a statistic.’ So, what happens to the kids that I don’t place? Some may go on to be placed by other agencies. Others are placed in emergency shelters where the ratio of kids to adults is 20 to 1 and who knows what kind of abuses go on in that kind of environment. What’s become the trend of late in Texas is for CPS workers to spend the night in the office with their kids because they can’t find a home for them.
My Conclusion and My Plea …to my own heart as well as yours
All of this has led me to be convinced of one thing: the American church is doing almost nothing to address this problem. This is especially concerning because bottom line we are talking about two things here: the welfare of children & the faithfulness to God’s work of mission. How can we slack on either? I’m afraid my title is a bit miss leading. It shouldn’t be ‘Fostering God’s Calling’, but rather, ‘Foster God’s Calling.’ I don’t believe that every church-goer needs to become a foster parent. But I have to think that the Lord wants to do something for these 500,000 lost children. All I can say is, whatever it may look like, we must all get involved.