Did You Know that Kansas Children in Foster Care is at an All-Time High?Rich Stigall
“We need to change our system. We need everybody to get involved.”
So says Joni Haitt in the video below, who has served as a foster parent for 136 children over the past 25 years.
We’ve broken a record, Kansans. We’ve set an all-time high for number of kids in the foster care system across the state, totaling just north of 6,500. As stated in the video, there were less than 5,000 just three years ago.
There are a number of factors that attribute to the rise in the numbers. Drug use, mental health disorders, and financial challenges are all contributors, but isolation and resource constraints inevitably play their part. Tate Williams, State Director of The Care Portal for Kansas and Missouri, notes the feeling of isolation impacts both the families in need and the child welfare agencies. Williams says, “Families feel isolated, so they turn to drug use. Investigators feel isolated by the barrage of requests, leading to a sense of being overwhelmed. Once involved, investigators open up a case, which prompts a litany of administrative burdens on the families and the agencies.”
There are clear needs across the board in Kansas and, I daresay, everywhere. Prevention services, relational needs, and placement requests: all will help to address the circumstances that led to a record breaking number. Perhaps cases would not have been opened if collapsing families had an alternative option other than a welfare agency. What is required is a massive effort by a collection of people who, on their hearts, have written the message love your neighbor as yourself. What we need is a hand-in-hand church declaration that an all-time record will not be acceptable on our watch.
Here’s the irony of it all: everyone has skills and resources to help address this problem. Lean on finances but have some time? Become a CASA or assist in another relationally-driven program. Short on time but have cash? Invest in a family’s stability by enrolling your church in The Care Portal and committing to helping those in your community. Need additional resources to help meet needs? I have a suggestion: shut off the TV. No more cable. For some, that will represent an additional $100/month. I took this step 10 months ago. You can guess how much I’ve missed it.
Will the church respond to such evident need? Contact us here for additional information on how your church can get involved.