In the U.S. there are 518,000 children in foster care because their own families are in crisis and or unable to provide for their essential needs. Everyday, 850 children enter our nations foster care system. As of November 2010 there were only 80 licensed foster homes in Santa Barbara County and 636 children in foster care. These are our children.
Foster children are normal children plus more. When the “label” is removed, they are much like your children, nieces or nephews, but with very different experiences. Each child has a unique story, they are frequently filled with fear, confusion, a sense of powerlessness and some are struggling to control their anger because they’ve been removed from the only home they’ve ever known. They are children ranging in age from 0-18 who have been removed from their home because of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment or because their parents may have died, have a mental or physical illness and or a substance abuse problem.
Many of the abused and neglected children that are removed from their homes will then be bounced from location to location often with their personal belongings in trash bags slung over their shoulders. Foster children are often overwhelmed by the names, unknown faces, and traditions of their new family. Self-esteem, or lack of, is often a major barrier to success for children in foster care placements. Children begin creating their self image at a very young age and it ultimately defines their thinking, behavior, creativity, stability, and personal integrity. Tragically, repetitive negative experiences, dysfunction and family disruption all contribute to a negative self image. Children typically blame themselves for the abuse and neglect they have experienced, which destroys their self-image even more.
All children deserve a safe and nurturing home. It is their birth right; it should not have to be earned. Children need an environment where they can complete the developmental tasks necessary to become healthy adults. When children have lived in families that have not been able to provide such an atmosphere, foster care can provide a positive environment where children are assisted in becoming whole again along with giving them a sense of belonging for the first time in their lives.Read Foster Child Bill of Rights
- In the U.S., there are 518,000 children and youth in foster care because their own families are in crisis and unable to provide for their essential needs.
- Children in foster care suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at twice the rate of U.S. war veterans.
- African American children make up 15% of the U.S. population, but represent 34% of the children in foster care.
- 3 out of 10 of the nation’s homeless adults report a foster care history.
- 70% of 17 year-olds in foster care express a desire to go to college. Just 54% will finish high school, and only 2% will earn a college degree.
- Only 38 % of foster care alumni are employed 12 to 18 months after discharge from leaving foster care.
Sources: Child Welfare Statistics For more information, visit the U.S. Government's AFCARS website
The CWLA National Data Analysis System (NDAS) is the most comprehensive collection of child welfare data available. The data contained in the NDAS illustrate the wide variation in the states' collection of information regarding child welfare issues. Visit http://ndas.cwla.org