The following post is part one of a three part series by our Founder, Chrystal Smith, in which we will be exploring the relationship between foster care and the community.
When talking about a cause they support, people often use the phrase “close to home.” It only makes sense that people want to dedicate their time and resources to causes that directly affect them or their loved ones.
But did you know that in some way, shape, or form, the majority of Americans are connected to the foster care system, despite being historically underrepresented and under-supported? In fact, we recently surveyed 732 people across the nation and found people are more likely to be connected to someone involved in the system than not, as only 16 percent of respondents reported having absolutely no connection to the system at all.
With more than 400,000 children in the U.S. in foster care in 2019 alone, that fact shouldn’t come as a surprise. While our survey found only 10 percent of respondents were previously in the foster care system as a child, and 17 percent have been or are currently a foster caregiver, a whopping 73 percent reported they know a foster parent, and 38 percent reported they know a child in foster care.
Yet, our study also found that a mere 5 percent of respondents reported volunteering with an organization dedicated to supporting foster children and caregivers.
I founded Foster Village in 2016 because I witnessed firsthand the many gaps and challenges of our foster care system after fostering, and later adopting, my daughter. From the lack of awareness of the challenges facing caregivers, to the limited resources available to children who may have experienced trauma, those on the front lines of child welfare are in need of, and deserve, a community of support and guidance.
Foster caregivers and children in care are people in our everyday lives — they’re our co-workers, our classmates, our friends, our neighbors, and sometimes, our family. We hope by outlining some of the results of this national study, you’ll want to challenge the status quo and help make an impact in your community.