Foster Through... (How can we NOT?)
Updated: Aug 22, 2022
There is one thing I'd like to do, but I am functionally powerless to do it.
It occurred to me that I should tell you about it. Maybe you can do it for me. Or be involved in some other way.
I heard of this dilemma, I'd say it's going on two years ago. Of the many societal problems that I'd like to fix, this one seems the easiest.
It's very simple really. Children in foster care, age out of the system at age 18.
These people have been given very little in the way of education, or guidance, of any kind.
The films that I've seen talk about kids that have lived in many many homes during their first 18 years. The numbers can be very high - perhaps 40 or 50 or more. And not all people that foster children, have the best intentions.
You can imagine... it doesn't need to be explained. Starting your life in an unacceptable family situation can be devastating, in and of itself. These kids generally come from traumatic home-lives. Many have known nothing but despair, from the beginning to the end of their childhood.
Having to move constantly, to a different 'family', essentially strangers, time after time, might not likely improve your situation. Going to different schools, trying to develop attachments and close bonds, always being the 'outsider' - all kinds of situations that leave you at a tremendous disadvantage.
Today we are concerned with the disruptions being experienced by children, that come from normal homes and healthy situations, when schools must close due to a pandemic.
Imagine if those disruptions lasted for your child, for 18 years.
The holes in your training and development as a young person trapped in foster care, are probably going to be cavernous. These children lack the skills, as pre-adults, that most children learn before their early teens.
Kids interviewed knew nothing about growing up. Simple concepts that I know I took for granted, are completely foreign to young people with no real roots or solid support.
They become homeless, they become pregnant, they are likely unemployable, and they become social-service-bound. They become addicts, and you can bet, they become prisoners, in more than a few ways.
The naivete, fear, and vulnerability created by this unfortunate state, is a condition that is unacceptable to a civilized society.
I'm not one to quote statistics. In the final analysis, having just one child that must face life alone and unprepared, is enough to hurt the heart of us all.
We have tens of thousands of children in this country, dealing with this every day.
We can throw money at the problem, but if we don't correct the void in the 'common-knowledge' education that these people receive, we will not avoid the pitfalls that this under-educated subset of society will face.
I have to say I always admired Josephine Baker and Mia Farrow, but my dream is bigger. I don't want to be the mother to these children, but I would very much like to be a part of the solution.
I don't speak of it often, but we should not expect government to take up all slack. This problem is most definitely one that society can address without waiting for politicians to intervene. While financial/governmental assistance would likely be necessary, waiting for government to initiate and administer a 'fix' for this is ... less than ideal.
Perhaps there are state government attempts to fund such initiatives. But there is not much that addresses the basic human (educational) needs that are not addressed within the foster care dynamic.
It would be lovely if we had programs that address this issue on a one-on-one basis, (i.e. families that could step in and fill this void), but we could also address this issue from a more broad perspective.
My vision is that senior citizens could play a key role, in providing guidance that young people need at this juncture.
If we need to house seniors, and we also need to provide a stop-gap for those aging out of foster care, would we save money and provide better outcomes, if we combined the two?
Our elders have so much to offer. Our foster children are in need of so much. The ability for both groups to assist one another, are immeasurable. As are the benefits, and the rewards.
A permanent home for our senior citizens. A transitional home for young adults coming out of foster care.
I'd give anything to be a part of that scenario....