Kentucky has more than 9,000 children in foster care – up from 8,000 less than 3 years ago! The raging opioid crisis is accelerating foster care with more cases of abuse and neglect at unprecedented levels. The Governor’s office is asking the Faith Community to get involved and become our “brother’s keeper.”
According to a recent article in The Courier Journal, over 8,000 children have been removed from their homes for reasons ranging from a parent’s drug abuse to domestic violence in the home. This increase, which is close to an all-time high for our state, adds to the already heavy loads carried by social workers and urges a need for more foster homes in Kentucky.
The state uses about 3,500 foster homes with private agencies licensing approximately 3,200 additional homes, but it is simply not enough.
The average age of a child entering foster care for the first time in Kentucky is 6.8 years. These children will spend almost 30 percent of their lives in foster care according to Department of Community Based Services (DCBS) Statewide Foster Care FACTS.
So, what can we do as caring followers of Christ?
- Consider becoming a foster parent. The fact is that there are not enough foster homes for all of the children in care. Check out https://adopt.ky.gov/learnMore/Pages/fostering.aspx or http://sjkids.org/foster-care-and-adoption/.
- Consider becoming a respite care provider. Respite care providers are similar to babysitters or childcare providers – but for foster families! Check out http://orphancarealliance.org/ or http://sjkids.org/foster-care-and-adoption/.
- Volunteer. Take advantage of volunteer opportunities at a Foster Care Home such as St. Joseph’s Children’s Home. http://sjkids.org/
Last year, more than 700 children of these children were adopted, and more than 80 percent were adopted by their foster families. But, more foster parents, mentors, and volunteers are needed to fill the gap for these children in need.
Scripture reminds us of our obligation . . . “Defend the lowly and fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy. Rescue the lowly and poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82)
Foster care needs true Pro-Life advocates. Fully embracing the inherent value of every life takes requires the willingness and self-sacrifice by accompanying the “least of these” no matter their age, race, or disability. Many parishioners have already answered the call, but many more are needed. Is God calling you to adopt or to be a foster parent?
You can learn more about Foster care at https://adopt.ky.gov/learnMore/Pages/fostering.aspx
as well as the adoption services offered through Catholic Charities at http://www.kycaringconnection.org/.