By: Kacy C.
On any given day in Massachusetts, there are 9,600 children and teens in foster care according to Foster Care Massachusetts’ government website. To enter foster care, a youth has to be in danger of abuse or neglect from a caregiver and can stay in the system anywhere from a few days to years. The average stay for an adolescent is two years, according to Foster Care Massachusetts’ government website.
The role of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is to act as an overseer of a child’s protection and advocate for the child’s best interest in cases of emergency. All children that come into the system will be given a DCF worker who will oversee their case and keep them updated on court dates, treatment plans and any necessary information over the course of their case life.
All around the nation, states have witnessed a surge in regards to the number of children coming into foster care. As of September 30th, 2017, there were 437,465 foster children in the system nationwide. That being said, in the Plymouth County area, there’s also been an increase in the number of families willing to take in children.
Lauren–who requested her last name be omitted–is a mother of two who was looking to make a difference.
“I heard about the need for foster homes after the Thanksgiving football game and thought that I could help out,” said Lauren. “There has been an increase in homes for these children in my opinion because there is more awareness for the crises these kids endure on a daily basis so I feel people really want to help.”
With movies like Instant Family–which depicts a married couple taking in three foster children– DCF and the Foster Care System has been spotlighting this crisis and using it to try and raise awareness that caught the attention of people like Lauren who are looking to lend a hand.
Between April and June of 2018, 458 children entered foster care on the South Shore, arise from the 396 children entering the system on the South Shore in 2017 during this time, according to DCF Quarter reports from 2018 and 2017.
The increase in children entering the system has been felt all across America, which is why people like Lauren have decided to take in children. “Homes are so important to these kids in the sense that they can grow and flourish in these homes,” said Lauren. “The children are our future so why shouldn’t we help them if we can?”
To be deemed eligible to take in foster children, one must be 18 years or older, rent or own a home up to DCF’s home safety standards, have a stable source of income, and pass a background check; all according to DCF’s Eligibility rules.
If deemed eligible, new foster parents must go through the proper training to learn how to provide maximum safety and security for the youth as well as ways to help them reach their greatest potential.
“The training really helped me understand not only what my family and I were getting into, but what the children I’ll be inviting into my life have gone through before they come to me,” said Lauren. “I hope more people decide to take in foster children, especially the teens. I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Visit https://www.mass.gov/foster-care for more information on how to help.
Picture Credits: U.S. Air Force photo by Naoto Anazawa