Preventing the movement of children in foster care

 

In March 2013, Mae entered foster care. Her parents were regularly using drugs. At the age of 5, she was being neglected on a daily basis.

Rather than finding stability in foster care, she proceeded to move between seven different homes over a three year period. Her longest stay in one home amounted to less than a year. By the time Mae came to Boys & Girls Aid, she was yearning for a family of her own.

Moving is tough. A move can mean leaving behind the places we know and the people we love. For children, a move can be life-altering. With each move, they lose their friends, their teachers and their roots. For those of us who moved as children, or lost friends to a move, it’s an experience we never forget.

Children in foster care face the constant risk of being moved. A child entering foster care will likely live in more than four homes during the first year of care. It is common for children who grow up in foster care to move more than 15 times. Each move can mean falling further behind in school and having to make new friends.

Regardless of why they move, the end result can be devastating. Youth who grow up in foster care have only a 50 percent chance of graduating high school. They are significantly more likely to become homeless, incarcerated and unemployed than their peers who are not living in foster care.

When a child enters foster care, they are scared and confused by their situation. They have been either abused or neglected to a point that their well-being is in danger. The first place a child goes is to an emergency foster care placement. This is only a short stay until a longer foster placement is found. Nothing is permanent in foster care.

A number of factors contribute to a child moving around so frequently. A foster parent may decide to stop fostering. The child may return home only for the abuse and neglect to persist, forcing them to reenter foster care. A foster youth may rebel and break the rules. In a family, this child may be grounded. In foster care, they are moved.

Once the cycle of moving starts, it is hard to stop. With each move, children in foster care lose trust in adults. While it may be unintentional, they nonetheless feel the sting of abandonment and the fear of having to start over in a new home, new school and new life.


Boys & Girls Aid is all about family

As Oregon’s oldest and most innovative child welfare agency, we are committed to preventing children from growing up in foster care. Whether it is through infant adoption, foster care adoption or our foster care programs, we believe every child deserves to have a permanent, lifelong connection. 

No child should face a future that includes spending the holidays alone. No child should be the new kid at one school after another. No child should be the new kid at one school after another. No child should go to bed each night unsure where they will be tomorrow.

We believe the cycle of moving between foster homes is an unacceptable solution. We focus on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of children in our care and ensure they are placed with forever families who will continue to help them grow

Every child deserves a family to call their own. That’s why Boys & Girls Aid is all about family. To show it, we are launching our “It’s All About Family” campaign.

Mae, now 8, found her forever home through Boys & Girls Aid. In November 2015, she was matched with Sena Norton. In Sena, Mae received a loving mother and a wonderful French bulldog named Monte.

Mae and Sena have developed an unbreakable bond since Mae first went home with Sena. Mae has become a brighter and happier person according to her mom. Sena can’t wait to start planning road trips and traveling to new countries with Mae.

If we could accomplish this outcome for every child in foster care across Oregon, there would be many more opportunities available to children who have received so few. The difference a forever family makes to a child lasts a lifetime.

 
Ryan Imondi