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.
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.