It’s no secret that our foster care system is overburdened. More than 250,000 children enter foster care each year. We don’t have enough foster families to meet this demand, and we don’t have enough adoptive families either. At the end of 2017, 123,000 kids around the country were still waiting to be adopted into a family.
But what if the only answer isn’t recruiting more foster and adoptive parents? Are there other things we can do? What if the answer is recruiting more communities to get involved and to help support families before children are removed from their homes?
We see firsthand the issues in our communities that lead to growing numbers of children being removed from their homes. With the rise of the opioid epidemic, at least one in three children enter foster care because of parental drug abuse. An increasing number of them are infants and toddlers; last year, two-thirds of the kids who entered foster care were younger than 5 years old.
There are a number of other factors that can also disrupt a family to the point where removal is the only way to ensure a child’s safety, including alcohol abuse, incarceration, parental history of trauma and abuse, financial strains from unemployment or homelessness, extreme anger and frustration or lack of physical care and attention.
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