Many hands make light work, but too few can be ruinous. One of the greatest challenges for the foster care system is the lack of foster parents.
“Our moral failing is as a community,” said Annie Blackledge, executive director of The Mockingbird Society. “We’ve created this ‘system’ to take care of ‘those kids’ so we don’t have to look. The idea we have in our heads is that ‘someone’ is taking care of it, but systems don’t raise kids, we do, and we’ve abdicated our responsibility as community members for caring for our most vulnerable. It lies at our doorstep.”
Not everyone can be a foster parent, Blackledge said, but everyone can help. If the state becomes the parent, then that needs to be the whole state: every citizen, agency, school. Too much blame gets placed on the system itself and not enough on those who are equally culpable.
That being said, the state also bears responsibility. There are not enough resources for foster parents. Social workers are overburdened. There is a system of care based on outdated ideas.
“There are equal helpings of failing to go around,” she said. “And there is equal opportunity to help out all around.”
Blackledge wants to see community looking for solutions more than bemoaning the poor state of affairs – and Mockingbird youth advocate Ezra agrees.
“I don’t want to hear things like ‘Oh, I feel bad.’ So what?” Ezra said. “I want to focus on what’s happening and what we can change. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, help me change it. Otherwise you ignore the situation instead of helping those who experience this lifestyle. We can find a way to end it.”
Click here for information on foster parenting.
Mockingbird Society seeks improvements in state’s foster care system to help youth aging out
Treehouse raises the graduation rate for Washington youth in foster care
Wait, there's more. Check out the full January 10th issue.