Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Miss Lisa Goes To Washington

During the week of Thanksgiving, members of
Foster Care Alumni of America from all over the nation will visit 25 members of the US Congress and promote flexibility regarding child welfare finance.

The government served as our parents, and now we are coming home for the holidays.

- We represent the 115,000 foster children waiting to be adopted this Thanksgiving.

- We represent over 20,000 teenagers who age out of foster care every year and are left to fend for themselves.

- We represent siblings who have been separated and kinship care providers who are not given adequate support.

Flexible funding might make a positive difference by helping to prevent the need for foster care for some children, and moving others to safe, permanent families more quickly.

The way that the system is currently set up, states lose money if they decrease the number of children in foster care.

Ohio Senator Mike DeWine has said that with federal funds, “The government gets what it pays for…if the funds can only be used to place children in foster families, that’s how agencies will tackle the problem.”

The message that I personally want to send Congress is balanced and three-tiered.

1.) Prevent entry into foster care (if possible)
2.) Find permanent families (whenever possible)
3.) Provide after care and resources (no matter what)

Because the fact is that some families can heal and reunify - and others cannot. Some reunifications are successful, and others lead to reentry into the foster care system (often due to lack of aftercare). Some relatives provide safety and security - and others do not.

Some foster parents have a heart for teenagers - and others do not. Some agencies have a sufficient number of foster families willing to take teenagers - and others end up sending teens to residential placements and group homes because there is 'no room at the inn.'

But regardless of any precipitating factors, our 'parent' (the Government) has a responsibility to provide help to us after we age out of care.

After we 'emancipate.'
After we 'are terminated.'
After we are no longer in the custody of Children Services.
After we are 'not their problem,' we are still their responsibility.

Because my stepdaughters are my children forever. After they turn 18, and enter college, whenever they need help, I as the parent have a responsibility to them.

I know that, when I sit at the Thanksgiving table on Capital lawn in Washington D.C. looking at the two empty seats at the head of the table 'in loco parentis,' that is what I will be thinking of...

Our efforts are made possible due to our partnerships with the Kids are Waiting campaign, FosterClub, Casey Family Programs and Florida’s Children First.

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