The Foster Care System in the Central Valley suffers greatly at the hands of the government. The system is overcrowded with children and inescapable problems. Not enough attention is dedicated by social workers for finding abused and homeless adolescents safe homes. Group home institutional placements are at an all time high. Teens are aging out of the system without the proper support to lead a stable lifestyle. Young children are suffering from developmental and behavioral issues. And there isn’t a proper focus on reunification of families. A solution must be put in place to eliminate such issues with the system. I am suggesting that if we treated The Foster Care system like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), fewer children in the system would be susceptible to such adversity.
Did you know, group home settings are seven to ten times more expensive per child than in home placement? (Six Problems with Foster Care) It should be a first priority to place children who have been removed from their families directly into another family like setting. Group homes lack adequate support for children. The problem with in-home placement is that there are rarely enough foster families to achieve that goal. There are nearly 2,000 current foster children in Fresno alone and only three active group homes within the area. (Children in Foster Care) Like group homes, animal shelters exist, where animals are housed and cared for by employees and volunteers.
Employees of shelters, much like social workers, do still have to get paid, but if the animals and children were housed together this can increase a number of unpaid volunteers.Who does not love a puppy baby combination? Although animal shelters face expenses, unlike group homes, they have a solution, euthanasia. Euthanasia is a common tactic used by shelters to decrease the number of unwanted, sick or old animals. Euthanasia can also be used to help decrease unwanted and terminally ill foster children. As an alternative to compiling all these children in a “shelter like” group home, euthanize those less likely to be adopted. Euthanasia can help save the system by opening space within in-home families and creating opportunity for adoption. There will also be more funding left for those children who are most likely to contribute to society the future.
When children and teens are placed in a group home setting they lose any ability they had to connect with a permanent adoptive family. Without finding their forever home, they are likely to age out of the system without the support they need. One in five young people who age out of the system will become homeless, one in four will be involved in the justice system within two years of leaving foster care and 40% of youth who age out will not graduate from high school (Six Problems with Foster Care). These individuals will not lead a successful life. The homeless population in just Fresno alone has risen 20% in the last year (Fresno Homeless Population). The crime rate in Fresno is also 59% higher than the national average (Fresno Crime).
If the group home welcomed potential adoptees, like shelters do for pets, it can increase teens chances of finding a permanent home. Treating foster children as pets allows them to be viewed as a companion for the family rather than a burden. Rather than filling the streets of cities like Fresno, Madera, and many other cities with delinquents, the system can enforce a foster-to-adopt program. This can give potential adoptees a chance to get to know the teen and see if they’re a right match for them or if the teen will lead a productive life. If the teen is a wrong match they can be sent right back to the group home and can be euthanized once deemed un-adoptable. Everyone wants a puppy and they are so willing to adopt a pet, so let’s start marketing children as pets.
Allow them to be adopted straight from the group home without going through expensive adoption agencies. Adopting a teen from an agency can cost thousands of dollars. When you adopt a dog it costs usually under $100. Reducing adoption prices down to shelter adoption prices will give everyone a chance to adopt regardless of financial standing. This will aid in decreasing teenage age out, and their problems that reek havoc on society.
When children do suffer from neglect and abuse it often leads to behavioral issues early on. These issues can range from depression and self-harm or physical aggression to sexually acting out. Because children did not come from a loving home there stability is lost. There are 280,951 children in Fresno and of those children 19,948 are experiencing some form of abuse and neglect (Children in Foster Care). These children’s emotional and physical pain can be utilized and commercials can be produced. Have you ever seen a foster care related commercial on TV? I have not, but I have seen plenty of ASPCA commercials air over the last decade.
The images of dogs and cats in cages, who appear beaten and neglected, plays across the screen with the ever so familiar voice of Sarah McLachlan singing “In the Arms of An Angel”. These commercials bring out the people who want to do good for the world. If we switched the roles and placed images of abused children and teens on the big screen, it can increase the number of people willing to help them. These commercials will tell people they can help prevent child abuse for just 63¢ a day. Better yet, someone will see the commercial and want to provide a better life to a kiddo. People want to love and nurture these abused pets all the time, so why wouldn’t they want the same for a child. People want to feel good about themselves and donating or adopting an abused child will do just that. Not only will the adoptee feel self-improvement, but the number of behavioral issues in foster youth will reduce.
Reunification is often an option of leaving the foster care system that is overlooked. Both adoption and age out are usually considered before this. This option most practical, but is disregarded by the system. Parents are not forever unable to care for their children, and often times abuse and neglect are not the main reason for removal from the home. Factors such as incarceration for minor infractions and financial instability often lead to a child being placed out of parental care. These problems can be solved and reunification should start being looked at as a viable end goal. When animals stay in a shelter they are often spayed or neutered to prevent reproduction that would lead to an increased number of strays. Like the animal, while the child is placed out of parental care and residing in a group home this gives the facility a chance to spay or neuter them.
Parents of these children should also face the requirement of being fixed. PETA says, “The single most important thing that we can do to save cats and dogs from all the suffering and death that their overpopulation causes is to spay and neuter them.” (Spay and Neuter). Although humans may not be able to reproduce as many children as often as dogs and cats, eliminating the option for abusers, and the abused to have children will have an effect on below poverty population. This will prevent these children from ever reproducing in the future, which would lower their chance of contributing to the amount of abused children and high foster care numbers.
Take my suggestions into consideration. The facts on the issues of the Foster Care System in the Central Valley are not pretty. With the number of children being placed in group homes rising and a limited number of group homes, euthanasia of unwanted children is a viable often. Adoption is a step ahead of euthanasia, and modeling our Foster Care System after the ASPCA should cause a steady increase in adoption rates. The advertisement of children on television will draw the eye of viewers and walk them into shelters all over the valley looking for an abused child who needs to be fixed with love and generosity. Who knows, maybe adoptees will also spot potential puppies along the way, solving two problems in one? The most important solution of them all really is the spaying and neutering of the abusers, and the abused. Keeping children out of foster care really is the number one goal and that goal can be met by preventing children from being born into toxic homes.
- Dupere, Katie. “6 Problems with the Foster Care System — and What You Can Do to Help.” Mashable, Mashable, 23 Aug. 2018, mashable.com/article/foster-care-problems/ #bpdO.WHAfqqY.
- “Children in Foster Care.” kidsdata.org.
- Hoggard, Corin, and KFSN. “Fresno Homeless Population Increases, No Shelter Available for Most.” ABC30 Fresno, 17 Aug. 2017, abc30.com/politics/fresno-homeless-population- increases-no-shelter-available-for-most/2316023/.
- Areavibes. “Fresno, CA Crime.” AreaVibes – The Best Places To Live, www.areavibes.com/ fresno-ca/crime/.
- “Spay and Neuter.” PETA, www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/overpopulation/spay- neuter/.