The statistics are alarming, those hard facts surrounding the American foster care system. The truth is, at any given time, there are over 400,000 children in care. In fact, to illustrate the magnitude of the problem, you could fill a football stadium with youth in our nation waiting to be adopted.
But, the sheer amount of children in care is only part of the problem. If you take a closer look, you will find that it’s not uncommon for those kids to live in six or more placements in their search to find permanent housing. In fact, 33% of foster children will change elementary schools five or more times while in care, many falling dangerously behind academically and losing crucial support systems.
Furthering the scope onto the state of Montana, you will come to discover that 3,024 of those kids belong to us. While one could say that the growing drug epidemic certainly plays a role on these children’s entry into our system, it would be obtuse not to note the role of systemic trauma and a lack of social support systems.
Truthfully, 25% of children who age out of the foster care system will become instantly homeless. Many of which lack the skills and quality education to break free of the chains of poverty and unhealthy patterns which led to their own entry into the system. Sadly, 30% of kids in care will have their own children removed due to abuse and neglect.
But, despite the grim statistics, there are success stories. Meet Jade, an outgoing, intelligent teenage girl who was adopted out of our therapeutic foster care program last year.
In the exert below, you will find her foster care story, told in her own words.
“I was nine when I entered foster care, now I’m sixteen. I’ve been in the system for almost eight years.
I don’t know much about my little brother, he got adopted and his mom is protective. I don’t blame her. I haven’t talked to him in six years. I want to see my little brother before I move. I want to at least talk to him one more time before I go out of state. I just want to see him before…there is a lot of things I want to do before I leave.
I have never really had a stable life. I never really got to sit down and enjoy my childhood. If people ask, ‘Hey, what was your childhood like?’ I don’t really have an answer. I didn’t really have a childhood. I spent my life packing my bags, moving from place to place, family to family, group home to group home. Heck, I’ve even been to Shodair. It was not easy for me, especially as a young kid. Now that I’m adopted, I don’t have to worry about anyone saying, ‘Hey Jade, pack up your bags, you’re leaving tomorrow morning.’
Now that I’m moving out of state with my mom, at least I know ahead of time. For the first time, I actually want this move. All my other moves have been like, ‘Hey, pack your bags, you’re moving, no questions, do it.’ …I was a kid.”
The stark reality is that Jade’s story really isn’t unique. There’s no shortage of children who are struggling in our system. But, truthfully, within each of us is the power to say, “I won’t let their story end this way.” You can change a life, open your home to a child in need.
Want to Get Involved?
Call us today at 406-245-6539 or contact us through our website to be connected to your local Family Development Coordinator. We look forward to walking alongside you in your journey to make an impact in the life of a child in need.