A child is brought into foster care when their parents are unable to provide a safe and stable environment for them. These parents could have severe home conditions, be struggling with addiction, keeping the child from going to school, could be homeless and unemployed, could be abusing the child, or could be allowing someone else to abuse the child. Some cases involve more than one of these issues and each one varies depending on the circumstances.
When a child is removed from their biological home, they typically aren’t able to get any of their belongings and might only have the clothes they were wearing when they were taken. The act of actually “removing” the child from the home can be very chaotic and is ultimately a traumatic experience for the child despite it being for their own good. The child then goes to the local children and youth office to wait until a home is located. The child might go to what’s called a kinship home if there is an appropriate family member identified. If no one in the child’s family is willing or appropriate to take the child, they are placed in a foster home with strangers.
At this time, there is typically very limited information about the child available. This lack of information can be medical needs, allergies, behaviors, etc. The lack of knowledge coupled with the extreme trauma that the child endured during the removal and from the situation they were in previously is ultimately a recipe for difficulty. The child then has to stay with strangers with none of their own belongings and has no time to process why they were removed from their previous home.
Think about a time you might’ve stayed with family members or friends. How did you feel doing this? Did you feel comfortable enough to do anything you might do in your own home without thinking twice about it? Were you slightly uncomfortable being out of your own element? Now imagine that you’re in a home with complete strangers, none of your belongings to comfort you, and you have no understanding of what might have happened just in the last 24 hours (not including everything you’ve endured leading up to the removal). Does the thought of this terrify you? Would you call up someone close to you in this situation for help? Both are likely true. Unfortunately, a child in care is not able to call a friend or family member for help. They are left with strangers to try and process what they’ve been through and usually don’t have anyone in their corner.
Children in foster care are brave, strong, and resilient. These children deserve to be heard and have someone fighting for them as hard as they’re fighting to stay alive in their situation.
Children deserve a voice too!