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Child abuse prevention—a continuing need

July 1, 1993

Child abuse prevention—a continuing need

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Imagine a child’s world in which the concept of “family” is turned on its head, a world in which this child is forced to pack his few belongings and move to a new home and a new family. Most of the time this child is not making the move with his brothers or sisters, who are being placed in other foster homes. And imagine for a moment that you are the family taking in a child like this who is confused, rootless, and likely angry.

Very little imagination is required if you are one of the 556,000 children in foster care in the U.S. today, or one of the foster families who open their hearts and homes to children in desperate need of stability. For these children, the word “home” is complicated. Unlike most of the children they go to school with, a child in foster care can have his or her “home” address change at a moment’s notice. Sometimes the home left in the morning is not the same home a child returns to after school.

May was designated National Foster Care Month—a time when the spotlight shines on the children and teens, the foster families and the dedicated child welfare professionals and volunteers who strive to make the foster care system work.

The need, however, for loving foster families continues to grow as the number of children entering the foster care system increases. Foster families, who open their homes and hearts to children whose familes are in crisis, play a vital role helping children and families heal and reconnect and in launching children into successful adulthood. Many of these dedicated foster families adopt foster children.

Children in foster care can feel more secure and are likely to do better when they are able to stay in the same community where they are growing up. The simple truth is that the more qualified foster parents there are in our communities, the easier it will be to ensure that children can remain in their own neighborhoods and schools and with their siblings while in foster care. When economic, social, environmental or psychological stressors make parents unable to meet their child’s needs, the community, the school and siblings can provide critical support. However, if intervention intended to help the children results in a rupture of their remaining social network and separation from their brothers and sisters, they suffer additional loss and grief.

There are many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of children currently in foster care. Becoming a foster parent is not the only way to have an impact on the life of a child in foster care. You can also become a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). National Foster Care Month is an opportunity to change the perception that children in foster care are the responsibility of someone else. These children are our children; their well-being is dependent on the willingness of our entire community to care for and about them.

For more information about becoming a CASA Volunteer, call 288-1901.

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