Foster Care: In Their Own Words

What is foster care really like for the children, both small and older, who experience it? Its a singular experience, totally outside of “normal.” Most of us can’t even imagine it.

Here at Boone County CASA, many of the children we serve live in foster care. We see wonderful, special people everyday who foster children in their homes. Foster parents play a very important role in the system. They parent children, are tasked with the daily needs of children such as feeding, bathing, and monitoring, as well as schoolwork, while also being given the job of helping a child maintain the bond with their biological parents. Despite all this they are not a child’s guardian. This role is filled by the State. Therefore foster parents must ask permission for nearly everything; school registration, doctor appointments, day camps.

Yes, foster care can still be quite a challenge for the kids and adults involved. Is it easy to have a stranger move into your home, knowing nothing about the routine, the family members, or the expectations? Is it easy being the child moving in, not even knowing the layout of the place that is now your home base? No, foster care will never be easy or ideal. Every child deserves to live with loving, capable biological parents. Unfortunately, for some kids this just is not possible.

The best way to learn about the experience of foster care is to hear it, or read it, straight from the source; the children who have lived it. To read personal accounts of the foster care experience visit A collection of blogs from CR’s 2014 Fostering the Future campaign. These are stories of kids who found success in and after the foster care system, as well as those that struggled deeply with it.

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Our Youngest Children

cccfbfe095ecffc2376488c70d2f3f04This is so true! The first five years of life are crucial to how one will think, react, and adapt over the course of a lifetime. Do you wonder just how important those first years are? Keep this in mind; First Five California states that, “By the age of 5, your child’s brain will have grown to 90% of its adult size. But even earlier than that, by age 3, it’s already reached 82% of its size.  This proves that the earliest days, months and years of your child’s life matter so much when it comes to early experiences that shape brain growth and development.” This shows that what people have known for centuries, that small children need to be talked to, looked after, and played with, is scientifically proven to be necessary and beneficial. Moreover, First 5 also says, “Talking, reading and singing set your child up for a significantly more successful future. Your child’s increased vocabulary means he or she will be less likely to drop out of school later, and that equates to earning $1 million more dollars in lifetime income.”

The sad part? Safehorizon states that it is these youngest children who are most vulnerable to abuse and neglect. The website says that, “The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment. Over 25% of abused children are under the age of three while over 45% of abused children are under the age of five.” It goes on to elaborate, “Of the number of children who died because of abuse or neglect…70.3% were younger than three years of age and 44.4% were younger than one year of age.”

If you would like to make a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child or would like to donate to an organization that does visit the Boone County CASA official webpage by clicking here.

Kids’ Crafts You Can Do This Summer

Are you looking for ways to keep your kids busy and away from the TV before school starts? Take a look at the fun and inexpensive things listed here to keep their little hands busy and their minds occupied.

One of our favorites was the tin foil night sky. Younger children will have fun poking the holes in the foil and, for older children, you can draw diagrams of the constellations. You can light it up with a battery operated candle or even one that changes colors. Use this to teach your child (and yourself) what Lyra, the harp and Ursa Major, the Great Bear are. For a list and drawings of the constellations click here.

Another great one is the dinosaur track flip flops. Why do kids like dinosaurs so much? Fisher Price says that, “Dinosaurs have been extinct a long time, but they seem to make a comeback in each new generation. For many preschoolers, dinosaurs are a major interest. You may find that one day your child–even if he has trouble pronouncing grilled cheese–will suddenly start talking about parasaurolophus and triceratops.”

So get busy and active this summer with your little ones. Whether they’re your own kids, your nieces and nephews, or kids you work with find ways to engage them in play that stimulates their brains and helps them learn colors, strategy, and problem solving. 

Its going to be…Neighbors Night!

Neighbors NightOn Saturday Poplar Grove will host the annual Neighbors Night Festival. There will be a battle of the bands and Poplar Grove’s Got Talent! It’ll be a fun way to celebrate your town and the small businesses that are set up in it.

There will also be a 5k run, a Little Tikes run, and 3 on 3 basketball. There’s something for everyone!

The band Otherwise is headlining the Festival. Check out their song, I Don’t Apologize.

Volunteering: What’s in it for me?

As idealist.org says, its okay to ask what you get out of volunteering. And the answer is…a lot! Idealist names several categories where volunteers benefit from their experiences volunteering their time including skill development, career exploration, and having an impact. Here at CASA we know our advocates are changing lives! National CASA calls these factors “evidence of effectiveness” and they are the following facts; that children with a CASA advocate are more likely to be adopted, do better in school, and spend an average of eight months less in the system than their peers who are not assigned a CASA.

The idealist article also states that volunteers, “learn new skills, keep skills sharp, or use existing skills inDedicate new ways.”

What else is in it for you? The Corporation for National and Community Service released a report which can be found here that says, “those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

So get active! Volunteer your time to a cause that you really believe in. If that cause happens to be providing a voice in court for abused and neglected children, give Boone County CASA a call at 815 547-6599.

Huffington Post’s Six Things You Should Know About Growing up in Foster Care

The mere idea of growing up away from parents, away from the close circle of family and friends most of us experience is terrifying. Think of it, one day you’re home and the next a stranger is taking you away from everything you have ever known. You can take with you what fits in a suitcase or, more commonly, a few trash bags. This is what happens everyday to kids whose parents can’t or won’t care for them properly. cropped-mh900442518.jpg

They lose. They lose more than just their parents. Sometimes they lose siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They lose the best friends they may have made at school or in their neighborhood. They lose a slice of their identity, of growing up knowing who they look like and from where their habits are learned. They lose the bed they’ve slept in and the feeling of normalcy. The good news is that they may not have to lose for long. Huffington Post’s Six Things You should know About Growing Up in Foster Care states that, “Now, under federal regulations, states are required to help children and youth find a permanent family situation more quickly than before. In 2013, the average length of stay in foster care was 13.5 months.”

Another standout in the article is this, “In fact, one study found that foster children are more likely to suffer PTSD than combat veterans.” That’s so sad. CASA recognizes that removal from the home and parents is traumatic for children. Children belong with parents and parents with their children. That’s why it is so crucial to make sure parents are getting all the services they need to be able to provide a good, stable home for their children’s return.

Sometimes, children can’t go home. Sometimes, the problems that originally broke a family apart can not be fixed. This happens when a parent refuses services, continues addiction behavior, or has multiple arrests while their children are in care, in addition to others. It is important to remember in these situations that children in foster care can gain, too. They can gain foster families that care genuinely for them, workers who have their health and education in mind, and forever families that will help usher them into the future. As the writer of the article said, “When I was about 12 years old, I was removed from my family and placed into the Tennessee child welfare system as a foster child. I had to pack all my belongings into trash bags and leave the home I knew behind. Roughly five years later, one week before my 18th birthday, I was adopted by my forever family.”

In the period from July 2014 to December 2014 88% of the cases that Boone County CASA served on that closed ended with the children living with a parent.  12% of cases ended in adoption.

Read the article from Huffington Post for more information on children in foster care, foster-to-adoption, and teenagers needing good homes. To volunteer to become a CASA advocate click here.