Foster care is a cause that affects you whether you realize it or not. Your tax dollars fund the care of these throwaway children in your community, and you pay for their outcomes as adults who experience homelessness, incarceration and another generational cycle of welfare. The majority of outcomes are tragic for kinless, abused, or neglected teens that age out of the system and transition into the real world inadequately prepared.
Georgette Todd has written a book that chronicles her difficult childhood that included sexual abuse and drug use. It could not have been easy to dig deep into all of her experiences. Due to her effort to educate herself and make it into college, she has learned to write well. After earning BA and MA degrees, she worked at an adoption agency. She eventually ended up providing the youth perspective for the Alameda County Child Welfare Dept in a program called the Youth Advocacy Program. She was in charge of presenting the emancipated foster youth perspective and recommendations about department policies and practices.
Todd outlines the basic premises of the foster care system approach. The US foster care system is far from perfect. There needs to be a systematic way to save children from abusive and neglectful homes. The purpose of the system is to place an abused or neglected child with a safe, loving relative that lives in the child’s original community. If proximity is not available, then the foster child will live wherever the biological relative resides. Until then, children are placed into receiving homes, emergency foster homes, or whatever facility is available. If the social worker cannot find a biological relative to care for the child, then efforts to secure a more permanent placement take priority. Permanence can mean adoption or long-term foster care in a group home or house setting.
These are the key goals of foster care but these plans don’t always pan out. Bureaucracies don’t always work. Unfortunately, many foster children end up in understaffed group homes and inadequate facilities. They also go into crowded juvenile halls or wind up going out on the street hustling for survival.
I selected Todd’s book because I belong to a private Facebook group called Adoption: Facing Realities. The members are adoptees, former foster youth, expectant mothers, original parents who permanently lost custody of their child and adoptive (including those who hope to) parents. Some find the perspectives in this group difficult. The mission of this group is to help expectant mothers believe in their ability to raise their own children, and not to chose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Though adoption figures prominently in my reason for joining this Facebook group, I’ve become more aware of foster care because of this group. And I realized I really had no real life background experience with which to understand foster care. Though Georgette Todd’s book is only one experience among thousands, I did gain the perspective on the system by reading her full childhood experience of it that I was seeking. The book may not be a good choice for victims of sexual abuse and former foster youth may not need to read it for the reasons I have. If a former foster youth wishes to compare experiences, then that may be a reason.
Some related links –
Georgette has a website – www.georgettetodd.com. She was a participant in a 30 minute documentary about the foster care experience which you can watch on youtube here – https://youtu.be/hS5JVSTf4LA.
I am not inclined to do Facebook birthday fundraisers but for this year only, I am doing one to support the work of Connect Our Kids, which I learned about at the end of Georgette Todd’s book. They are applying technology to help social workers located extended family for displaced children that may be able to care for them. Kinship is often, but not always, a better option for many children. Modern families are far flung and often lose track of one another. I set a modest fundraising goal of $200 and donated the first $25 myself. Here’s the link, if you would like to help the cause – https://www.facebook.com/donate/310497696609444/