What is the Best Way to Advocate for Youth in Foster Care?

youth in foster care

Foster Care for Youth is a very crucial tool for our United States to utilize so that children are sought after and taken care of. The problem is,  there are many foster agencies that are dealing with rise of foster children, in an inappropriate manner. To give an example on how the foster agencies are failing our youth today, this article will be using the state of Illinois as an example.  

There are 18,500 children in Illinois’ foster care, 750 of which have changed homes over 10 times. One out of four children have lived in at least five different homes since being enrolled in the system. This of course is a contradiction to the state’s promise to give these unfortunate children a safer, more stable environment than they were given at home.  

Why is this happening? Critics say that this is mainly due to the fact that state’s child welfare put more of an importance of privately run agencies receiving payment (roughly $75 million dollars), than they do the well being and needs of the foster children themselves. This is problematic of course. Experts say that children lose self esteem and emotional problems arise. Children who stay in the system long enough will have a 25% more chance of being convicted of a crime, and nearly 40% of girls will be pregnant by the age of 18. 

How the system works: Once entered into the foster care system, a child is placed into an agency such as Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social Services, based upon which agency is in need of fulfilling their contract given number of children. Details such as what religion the child is or where their closest blood-relatives currently live, are not taken into account when choosing an agency for the child to live in. It’s all a matter of which agency is in the highest demand of children in order to meet their quota. 

Experts say that rural states such as Indiana and Utah, take more time and carefulness when selecting a foster care home for the child (Days or weeks), than largely populated states like Illinois and Michigan who literally make the important and crucial selection within a few hours.   

Financially, there is no incentive for many agencies to return children to their biological parents or finding someone to adopt them.  This is because many private agencies are paid a per-day basis for each child living in one of their foster homes.  

The solution to fix the way foster care agencies are run is simple: Don’t base the vast importance of choosing the places children live, solely on convenience. This way of thinking is inhumane and needs to be stopped.

If you would like to know more about therapeutic boarding school and other residential programs for troubled teens, please contact a family counselor at Zion Educational Systems for guidance.  To get started click the button below!

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