The Problem with the Foster Care System

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I believe every living person has the right to life and to live it without any restrictions, just as God entailed for all his children. I chose to center my project on the catholic social teaching of Rights and Responsibilities because I believe that all of our actions we make now will determine what evolution and growth we make in our society in the future. I wanted to connect my specific catholic social teaching to a social issue that I believe plagues America today, the foster care system. Foster care is one social issue that tends to be looked over in today’s society. Many automatically assume that all foster kids are provided with all of their needs by the government or by their own foster parents, when in reality it is quite the opposite. Thousands of children across the United States within the foster care system are neglected and abused everyday. It is our responsibility as people of God to help our brothers and sisters who struggle to find a home,family, and purpose. I decided that the organization that not only helps aids foster kids around the county but also spreads awareness of the issue itself was CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates. CASA not only helps those children find a safe and permanent home, but provides them with a specially trained volunteer whom are appointed by judges to help others understand what is in the best interest for a foster child. These volunteers act as a voice for the rejected children who live within a broken and merciless system. I plan to connect all three of these topics (tenet,social issue,organization) by researching thoroughly why and how it is our responsibility to help those who have become victims of the foster care system. My overall plan is to dive deep into my topic by looking through federal cases, websites, and other resources that will aid me in my search for answers.

Going more into depth on Rights and Responsibilities and my decision on basing my essay around this specific tenet, I felt that it is important to understand and I wanted to explain it thoroughly. The Catholic tradition teaches us that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can only be achieved if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Rights are necessities or conditions in life that people need in order to be fully human. People need these rights in order to fulfill what God created us to be, happy. Responsibilities correspond with rights, mainly because it is the responsibility of people to fulfill God's expectations, in that we, his children, can serve one another until we can live in together in perfect harmony. An example of how rights and responsibilities is referenced within the scriptures is within the verse of Isaiah 1:17, stating, “Learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea.” It is heavily urged numerous times within the Bible to help those who cannot help themselves. Catholic Social Teaching teaches us that it not society that owes us these rights, but we as humans owe them to one another. In order to achieve true happiness, we need to take responsibility and create a society in which all are equal. This tenet is also shown with Sacred Tradition which can been seen within one specific quote from Pope Francis,“Society as a whole, and the state in particular, are obliged to defend and promote the common good.” Here Francis is saying that as humans, we are called to help those less fortunate than us and spread God's love and will, as it is yet again one of our responsibilities in life.

This tenet is seen our daily lives everyday. You don't have to volunteer at your local homeless shelter everyday in order to fulfill rights and responsibilities. It is in the small acts of kindness, like giving half of your lunch to a classmate who forgotten their own, that can make a big impact on someones day. This tenet I believe specifically applies to my social justice issue because from even participating in acts like the giving tree or donating your old clothes to a foster care clothing drive can make a foster kids day better. Things that we take advantage for in our daily lives (i.e. clothes, toys, blankets,TV, phones, books, etc) are what some of these kids go without for days and weeks when bouncing around from home to home. Humans should strive to live out the teaching of helping those who cannot help themselves, in this case foster kids. In order to achieve true happiness, we need to take responsibility and create a society in which all are equal.

The issue at hand, that being the foster care system, has failed to meet the needs of hundreds of kids placed in the system every year. From from allowing those who have aged out of the system altogether without any aid to support themselves, to the struggling children who live with an abusive, profit privatized group home, the hidden harm of the system itself goes unseen by the majority of Americans everyday.

According to Mashable, one in five foster kids “who age out of the system will become homeless… one and four children will be involved in the justice system within two years of leaving foster care”. The gruesome reality of the after effects of being a former foster child is real, and everyday it is getting worse. The systemic issue on the table: the neglect to aid and better child welfare within the US. Ever since the foster care system has been put into place after seven year old Benjamin Eaton became America’s first foster child in 1636, the process for a child to find a permit home has become myth to some of foster kids.

Due to the fact that there is not enough “non-relative placement resources available to meet the needs of the children requiring foster care… this has led in some cases to moving children around from home to home”, says The CT Mirror. What once was a temporary solution for finding a child a permanent home has now become a hectic mess, resulting in thousand of kids bouncing around from home to home, leaving them no other option but to sit, wait, and hope for the best. Another harsh reality of being a foster child is being left in the hands privatized foster care homes. “Privatization takes place when a government outsources services or functions to private firms… existing for one reason only: to make a profit,” says Adoption.com. The product in this case, the child. The more kids these companies place into their homes and the faster they get adopted, the more money they make. By federal and state law, children are supposed to be placed with extended family members but some privatized foster care agencies, who operate outside of the government system, put profit ahead of policy, which overall can cut kids off of family forever.

My issue relates to rights and responsibilities because it is our job to help our brothers and sisters, not neglect of the right to live life happy. They should be treated with dignity and respect, instead being seen as something to profit off of. You cannot put a price on a living being. A human life is precious, so why is this still a problem? Why are foster parents abusing kids physically, emotionally, sexually? In short, because they can. These foster parents are not being stopped by anyone and instead are being paid to continue their abuse. Not only do I believe that this issue violates human rights, but the facts agree with me as well. No human being should be treated like dirt, because that is not what God wanted for us. He wanted us to always support and help each other, especially those who cannot help themselves. He wanted all his children to live and love together, instead of neglecting thousands of kids who do not know what the definition of “home” truly means. “The system” is a shining example of the abuse of human rights. It has failed thousands of kids longing for a loving family, a happy life, and a chance to have their voices heard, all which has be denied to the majority of those kids. No child should ever have to go through any form of abuse with their foster families. They did not ask to be put in this situation whatsoever, so why make it any worse for them? There has to be change, and in order to do so and better this broken system, it all starts with speaking up about the injustice that is being done. It starts with donating to child protective agencies to help properly recruit and train more qualified foster parents.

 

CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, helps thousands of foster kids across the nation. The organization itself was created in 1976 after founder, and Seattle Superior Court Judge, David Soukup, could not stand another day of worrying about “the lifelong impact his decisions had on abused and neglected children”. In an interview with the LA Times Soukup stated that he was “consumed by the fact that I didn’t have enough information about each child... I just didn’t know if I had done the very best job I could.” Soukup came up with the idea of volunteers being the voice for different foster kids within and outside of the courtroom. Almost forty years later, there are over 900 CASA programs within 49 states today. After calling this organization, I learned the certain procedures volunteers must undergo before being assigned a case. First volunteers must complete the application process which includes a criminal background check, over twenty hours of training, which covers topics like how to handle a case with a recurrence of family violence and the legal processes they will face when appearing in court for their child.

  I choose this specific organization because of the differents ways they help better a foster child's life by investigating any problems within their child's home, advocating for them in court, and overall ensuring that their child is receiving the best care financially, medically, and etc. CASA volunteers “represent the best interests of children who are involved with the child welfare system” (Caliber Associates). According to ProKids, children who have a CASA volunteer are less likely to “spend time in long-term foster care, defined as more than 3 years in care”.

This organization is remarkable due to the fact it directly helps thousands of foster kids around the nation. CASA itself is a social justice rather than a charity, because the organization works directly (meaning face to face) with the child and courts to help better the life of this child now and forever. CASA volunteers do not just give their child money and walk away, they are helping to mend a broken system and help those whom have become victims of foster care itself. The organization operates out of the system of subsidiarity, meaning that they give responsibilities over to the individuals and local communities in order to reach the common good. This principle has shows foundations similar to the way God exercises his power, like how Jesus did not make or force his followers follow him and his beliefs. Jesus gave them the freedom to do as they wish. In this case with CASA, these children are not being forced to tell their volunteers all of their needs, but it is their choice of freedom to speak up of the injustice that is going on within their life. Subsidiarity relates to CASA because it shows how these kids are involved in the choices they make for themselves.

Lastly, this organization aligns with the catholic social teachings and as well aligns with the teaching of the church. The whole purpose of CASA is helping a foster child who is in need of a better life. Volunteers are putting their lives on hold to better someone else’s. I believe that CASA is a great example of an organization that lives out the catholic social teachings and Gods plan.

Overall, throughout all of my research, I have gained an extensive amount of knowledge for how the foster care system operates as well as how CASA operates. I have gained an enormous amount of respect for CASA volunteers and all of the hardwork and dedication they put into to help these kids. Throughout all three aspects of my paper, I successfully drew connections between rights and responsibilities to the foster care system to how CASA demonstrates qualities of the catholic social teachings. This issue is one I am passionate about because mainly because of the TV Show, The Fosters, which tells the story of a young foster girl who is placed into a foster home with a couple and their blend of adoptive and biological children. This show opened my eyes to the reality of what living within the foster system is like and the rough conditions some foster kids have to undergo. The result of finishing the TV show and this essay leaves me inspired more than ever to become a CASA volunteer later in my life and bring change to a foster kids life. I believe in doing so, I can start a chain reaction for making this social injustice more aware within society. 

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The Problem With The Foster Care System. (2019, Oct 30). Retrieved July 13, 2024 , from
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