If you haven't had any first-hand experience, the realities of foster care are distant and perhaps misunderstood.
May is National Foster Care Month
Now, coinciding with National Foster Care Month and with the help of Children’s Rights, Facebook users can see what life is like for children who go through foster care.
Foster care is a necessity for many children, but the grim reality of their living situation is something that shouldn’t be ignored. Children’s Rights, a national advocacy organization, has launched an interactive Facebook application for users to get more in-depth information about the sometimes difficult living environments children face while in state care.
National Foster Care Month
Each May, National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the experiences of the more than 400,000 children and youth in the foster care system. National Foster Care Month began in 1988 when former Senator Strom Thurmond was persuaded by the National Foster Parent Association to pen a resolution to declare the month of May for raising awareness of foster care.
Foster care info
The statistics on foster care can be startling and depressing. “Few people know that many children exit foster care far worse off than when they entered,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, founder and executive director of Children’s Rights.
“Kids are bounced between homes and institutions with little regard for their physical or emotional needs,” she said. “They are vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Some can’t get a consistent education. These are only a portion of the horrors that do long-term damage to our foster youth and leave many unprepared to face the world as young adults. Trapped? is a compelling means of informing a wide swath of the public about these grim realities.”
Interact with Trapped?
The user-friendly, interactive Facebook app (called Trapped?) provided by Children’s Rights allows users to track two fictitious brothers who go through very different foster care situations when they are separated. With each click of the mouse, you will learn about some of the harsh realities that kids face when placed in state care.
Check out the app here and see what you can learn about the lives of foster kids in the U.S.
Fostering is not all bad news
Not all foster care stories feature abuse and neglect. Hillary, mom of three, whose parents fostered children as she was growing up, related the impact these children had on their lives and how being a foster mom or dad can be hard as well. “We had mostly newborns,” she told us. “They were usually in some sort of limbo situation (unexpected birth, trying to get the father to sign his rights away, and so on). The one we had the longest was eventually adopted by friends of my parents. He is 22 years old now, came to my wedding and we are friends on Facebook.”
Fostering isn’t without its own unique heartache, either. “My parents had a pair of older children for months that no one wanted so they asked to adopt them,” she shared. “The agency was going to allow it, but then the mother decided she wanted them back. They were already calling my parents Mom and Dad. The birth mom got them back but after a week she didn't want them anymore. My parents refused to be involved in a back-and-forth thing and they were eventually adopted by another family.”
Check out the Trapped? application on Facebook and see what you can do to help bring about change in the child welfare system in our country.
More on foster care and adoption