There are so many ways to approach this issue, the issues within the national foster system. Currently, there are a little under a half million children in the national foster system, roughly seven thousand in Kansas, roughly thirteen thousand in Missouri, and not enough registered parents to support them. We often think of many foster children as the forgotten children within our civilization. We have a system in place that predominantly breeds failure. It is always easy to place blame on various parts of this system, but we, collectively, need to move away from the mindset of “blame” and begin thinking of solutions.
To provide one with an idea on the extent of our nation’s failure, nearly 80 percent of inmates incarcerated in prisons have spent time in the foster system, 25 percent of foster youth will be in prison within 2 years of emancipation, 40 to 50 percent of youth are homeless within 18 months of leaving foster care, and only 1 to 3 percent of foster youth graduate from college. The United States has one of the highest prison populations per capita and over a half-million homeless, and the foster system is currently contributing to the problem. So how can we help?
Jessica Silvey decided over two years ago to start a charity that is directly focused on the needs within the foster system. So, Jessica teamed up with a friend, Chris Youngdale, and sister-in-law, Megan Silvey, and decided to start Care Package Inbound. A charity that will initially be focused on addressing the physical needs of foster children in Kansas City. When children are placed into a new home, they often possess very few belongings, and these care packages will give them something that they will be able to call their own. A new set of clothes, blankets, toys, hygiene items, and a few other accessories. These care packages will provide temporary relief during the initial adjustment period.
However, our plans are to go far beyond temporary relief. Eventually, we want to provide other support for the foster children, biological parents, and foster parents. The National Conference of State Legislatures has stated that “30-50 percent of foster parents quit within their first year due to lack of support, insufficient representation within the child welfare system, and feeling helpless when faced with children’s social and emotional needs”. To accomplish this, it will take an extensive network of volunteers and specialists willing to provide backup and assistance to these parents.
We know that we are not alone, and even though it is easy to become overwhelmed, there are many great charities and foster parents in this country who need your support. Remember, an organization is just a collection of individuals willing to move together toward the same goal. We need your help. Whether it is a financial donation, an equipment donation, a personal time donation, or even just spreading the word, we need your assistance to support the children, their families, and the foster families. Omwana ni wa bhone, is an African proverb meaning: regardless of a child’s biological parents, its upbringing belongs to the community. Together, let us address this problem that has begotten our country and work together toward a common goal, one step at a time. Together, we can deliver hope.