May is Foster awareness month so right now there is shining light on the state and how they are managing foster children. In the state of Arizona according to the most recent release from McKay, it said that the numbers are over 13,000. This is down from previously recorded 19,000 just a few years ago. The lowering of the numbers is good but why is the number so big?
As far as government agencies, Children protective services departments are fairly new. They were established in 1974. Their job to investigate the mistreatment of children. It's not a bad idea, but somewhere along the way the main focus has been missed, the children.
Here is what it comes down to, there have been reports of children who have been killed by foster parents. There are reports of children who have been killed by biological parents. There are parents who were cleared and had their child returned that you never hear about. There are children who were visited multiple times by DCS only to be later killed by their parents.
Who is failing? Where is it that people are missing the mark?
Here is the deal, it starts at home. It always has. Parents are the ones who are missing the mark. In order for a child to go into foster care, there has to be a reason. The state gets a call about a child who is in danger or something is going on in the home that shouldn't be. A child is born with drugs in their system and gets taken away. The system was set up to save children from parents who were mistreating them.
There are other circumstances where children get into foster care, when the parents die or if the child is abandoned. These circumstances are not the reason that children are being put into the system. In Arizona 600 children are being removed from homes each month with that rate growing at 100 per month.
There are two sad facts about 600 children being removed from the homes. Finding a place for that many children, even if they are sibling groups, the number monthly is astronomical. The other sad fact is that hundreds of families are abusing children.
The parents are responsible for their children. Abuse and neglect are not a reason that any child should be placed in the foster care system. It shouldn't happen. Plain and simple. There is no reason why any child should be abused or neglected at the hands of their parents.
The problem is that in order to prevent abuse and neglect, you have to catch it before it happens. The key then to helping all of these children before they get into the foster system is prevention. The hard part is finding them. It is up to the parents to reach out for help. It is up to them to treat their children with decency. It all starts at home.