May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. There are close to 400,000 children in the foster care system as of fiscal year 2015, many of which have been removed from their homes due to parental substance abuse, sexual abuse, or abandonment. This is an issue that we cannot ignore, especially if we hope to reverse the trend of safe spaces and entitlement that has permeated the millennial generation. The number of children entering and aging out of foster care each year continues to increase, and kids around the country are left without a family or a home. Less than 10% of foster children graduate from college, and all of them face severe uncertainty about their futures. This is where a group called 4Kids stepped up and decided to reverse the trend of children struggling without a home, and they recently celebrated their twenty-year anniversary of providing safe places for children in the foster care system.
The growing number of children who face homelessness and foster care is an issue that we should do everything in our power to solve. This isn’t and shouldn’t be a political issue, but it certainly is of paramount importance to the future of our country and its ability to provide a welcoming and open opportunity for all who desire it. We as private citizens ought to do all we can to mobilize the American dream for children in dire circumstances. Groups like 4Kids are a stellar example of the impact private groups, made up of individual citizens, can have on the future.
4Kids is a private, faith-based foster care organization founded in 1997 and based out of South Florida that provides far more than just home placement for children in the system. Through a variety of programs, they are actively engaged in shaping and changing the next generation to give them a chance they otherwise would go without. Through SafePlace, 4Kids offers emergency care for children who are removed from their homes and gives them security and comfort at their most vulnerable time. Through His Caring Place, they offer maternity and aftercare homes for mothers who find themselves in crisis pregnancies and walk alongside them through a pregnancy that otherwise may have been ended. And through Independent Living, 4Kids offers a helping hand to children once they turn 18 and age out of the foster care system to prevent them from living on the street or from falling in with the wrong crowd.
The plight of children who grow up without a family is often devastating, and folks who believe in the importance of private groups as opposed to government intervention must be hands-on in combatting these issues, lest our beliefs come off as little but a muted battle cry. Every statistic and problem we debate within the political realm represents a human being who will be affected by the real-world ramifications of our proposed solutions. If the problem is solvable, we should be doing more than just talking about how to solve it– we should be working to solve it. This is exactly what groups like 4Kids are doing on a daily basis.
This one group alone has helped 20,000 children. I can’t help but believe that many of the problems our society faces could be either diminished or eliminated altogether if enough people practiced what they claim to believe and took action to fight injustices and tragedies in their own communities. This is “community organizing” at its best, and is a concept worth trying out if it means a generation can be saved from the realities of homelessness and destitution that are seen all too often. From before birth until even after a child has aged out of the foster care system, groups like 4Kids exist and are working to change the narrative about individual involvement in the future of a particular issue. The possibilities for change are endless if folks model this behavior and actually get involved in solving issues that too often receive little more than talk and that sit ready for change. Let’s activate our beliefs about the effect we can have on our communities and get involved in not just talking policy, but in helping people.