As a society, we should value all children. Most fair-minded, right-thinking adults do. But when you look at statistics of children who have been placed in the foster-care system, one must step back and take pause.
Foster care is the collective solution to a major problem in each of our communities across America. The statistics bear it is failing most of the kids who enter.
Here are the numbers:
For fiscal year 2016 – 273,539 children entered the Foster Care System in the United States.
Of those number, the outcome does not look encouraging. According to jimcaseyyouth.org:
• 20% will become homeless after one year of aging out
• Half will be unemployed at age 24
• Less than 3% will achieve a college degree
• 71% of young women will become pregnant by age 21
• 25% will suffer with PTSD
It’s safe to say we are failing these kids miserably.
Where is the Christian Heart?
I live in Mississippi, a state which has the highest number of churches per capita in the United States. Currently, there are over 5,000 foster care kids in the state right now. If every church in Mississippi took responsibility for one of these kids, the numbers mentioned above will become considerably lower. In fact, I believe there would be other societal problems which would diminish as well; crime rate and single parent families come to mind.
One thing I do know as a Christian, Jesus loves children! When His disciples tried to deter kids warming to Jesus publicly, he admonished them, and welcomed those children and their problems to come close to Him.
The Bible clearly indicates how important these “orphaned children” are to Him.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. ~ James 1:27
A Problem Within a Problem
I am told by Child Protective Services the likelihood of Foster Care Kids becoming trafficked is high, especially among teenagers because they often run away from the system and are susceptible to being tricked into the industry. Prostitution is prevalent in human trafficking, a consequence no kid should have in their future.
Another problem with this system is each child’s value is diminished to the amount of the check the foster family receives from the government. With this mindset, kids growing up in the system carry the same values for their children, and the problem becomes generational.
So, what’s the solution? I believe we must follow Christ’s example and allow these children to get close to us, and us to them. The first phase is becoming aware of the problem, the next step is to do something about it.
I have recently become involved in a group at my church who is focusing our time, talent, and resources in helping as many of these children as possible. We understand the bible instructs us repeatedly from Old Testament to New to care for these kids. Now, I am involved and see many congregants of our church becoming involved as well. It’s both amazing and exciting, and things are beginning to happen.
Currently, we have a Fall Family Festival in late October to show these kids and their Foster parents how much God loves them. We will have pony rides, dunking machines, cotton candy, face painting, and other carnival-like booths ready for these kids to enjoy. It will also give our church the opportunity to meet some of these kids face-to-face. Who knows what God will do after that!
To Be Determined
I cannot tell you how things will turn out. As Christians, all we can do is focus our efforts on God’s instructions and let Him be responsible for the results. Because if the Bible is true, and we are faithful, God will ensure the results.
I promise to keep you readers apprised of the results as we move forward with our efforts here on the Gulf Coast. I won’t be able to use kid’s names per Child Protective Services, but I will be able to share their stories. In the meantime, I ask for your prayers.
Blessing to you all.