Foster system needs families
To the Editor:
I do not wish to minimize the situation of children being separated from illegal immigrant parents that has been all over the news. Wherever children suffer, it is heart-wrenching. We must address immigration, balancing hospitality and safety.
The government separating children from their parents is not new, however. It happens regularly in our country. Our foster care system is full with tens of thousands of children whom the government has separated from parents who are arrested, incarcerated, neglectful or abusive. The system is overwhelmed because there are too many children, and too few case workers and good foster homes.
Some children are sent to relatives. While there are wonderful foster families that provide good services, the list of dangerous foster homes grows longer each year. Too often, foster children are ushered out of state to homes where they are more likely to fall through the cracks.
New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, along with 19 foster children, filed a class-action lawsuit last year against the New York City Administration for Children’s Services and the State Office of Children and Family Services for causing what she called irreparable harm to children in the city’s foster-care system. There are currently 11,137 children in the system, accounting for almost 60 percent of the state’s foster kids. New York ranks 46th among states and territories for instances of substantiated or indicated maltreatment of children while in foster care.
Where are the protesters speaking on behalf of these children? If people want to help children who are separated from parents, why not become foster parents to the kids right here, right now? One wonders how much of the current protests are expressions of genuine concern for children, and how much are simply convenient political statements. Yes, the policies and systems are broken. Becoming a foster family is a tangible way to address them.
My wife and I were foster parents when we were younger. The experience was challenging, but rewarding. The foster care system is desperate for good parents and homes to facilitate the goal of reuniting parents and children.
The Rev. Bob Walderman
Lynbrook Baptist Church