National Foster Care Month highlights need for foster parents

May 7, 2015

When Ken Keung was removed from abuse and neglect and placed in foster care, the love and commitment he received from his Arrow foster family changed his life forever.

His family recognized Ken needed a way to express himself, and had a gift for art, so they gave him a set of oil paints. That gift set Ken on a path of honing his skill, and eventually to studying art in college.

Ken Keung presents his Arrow caseworker with a special gift (inset: one of Ken's paintings)
Ken Keung presents his Arrow caseworker with a special gift (inset: one of Ken’s paintings)

“My foster family loves my paintings, and they encourage me so much,” Ken said. “Right now they own four of my paintings in their house, and I will paint more because I feel like this is my home, and they treat me like a family member.”

The influence Ken’s foster family had on his life was pivotal in his success as an adult. The love and encouragement they showed him helped him find purpose in his life.

Unfortunately, many foster children will not get the same opportunities as Ken. There are 400,000 children in care across the nation, but not enough foster families to take them in. Some may never receive the love and guidance they need and deserve. These children are placed in group homes, or sometimes even end up living in psychiatric hospitals for an extended period of time.

The best environment for foster children is a home with a family, but the reality is some foster children are much less likely to be placed in a home than others due to their race or age. Foster parents who open their homes to children have the option of choosing who they will take into their home. Children under 2 years old who are white are the easiest to place. Unfortunately, African American children and those who are older than 8 years old are the least likely to be matched with a family of their own.

Additionally, many parents want to add to their family through foster-to-adopt, and while this is a wonderful goal, there is a need for foster parents who are willing to take in children who may never become available for adoption. About a third of children in state care have a permanency goal of reunification with their biological parents, and these children need a foster home just as much as those whose permanency goal is adoption. The average length of stay in foster care for these children is just over a year.

There are children entering foster care today that need your spare room for a while. Those children may be a racial minority, or a teenager. They may need to stay for a few months, or a few years. Regardless of race, age or length of stay, they all desperately need a stable home environment where they can feel safe and heal from the trauma that brought them into state care.

Learn what it takes to be a committed foster family by attending and information meeting. Visit www.arrow.org/meeting for the date, time and location of the next info meeting in your area.

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