In a recent article in the Register Guard, a Eugene, Oregon newspaper, more than seven thousand children are reported to be in foster care in Oregon. The demands on state workers to find homes and provide services to these kids grows greater every day. Many consider these numbers a statewide crisis.
The news came this week by way of an audit promised by Secretary of State Dennis Richardson a year ago. The audit delivered a stinging report on current foster care provisions. It cited too few personnel, fewer still the numbers of foster parents, and increasing duties placed on those already serving the system by opening their homes to hurting children. Often kids are left in high-risk situations because there are simply no resources to help them.
Realizing that Oregon’s Department of Human Services (DHS) does not exist to recruit and coordinate volunteer efforts, in 2012 an organization called Embrace Oregon stepped up to meet the need. The members rallied volunteers to find more homes, provide welcome boxes for children suddenly displaced from their families, and committed to serve kids left in transition, trauma, and terror. Momentum grew and soon Embrace Oregon had provided more than 600 foster family inquiries—250 of those certified as foster families— 3500 volunteers, 14,000 welcome boxes, and had contacted 100 businesses and 40 faith communities.
As word spread of the success of Embrace Oregon, more counties joined the cause. The moniker Every Child became a symbol of volunteers working together with their local state agency to bridge the gap of services to neglected children. Today thirteen counties are involved in partnering with local DHS offices with the goal of reaching every county by 2022. Every Child is working to solve Oregon’s foster care crisis by spreading the word, educating the public, connecting one-on-one with their communities, and prompting public and private initiatives.
I researched foster care for my upcoming release March 1, Love Calls Her Home. I spoke with several individuals, gathering testimonials from those who have either served as foster parents or who lost their children to DHS. The stories are heartbreaking—the children involved left traumatized, confused, and alone. All those I talked with believed awareness is the key to bringing the problem under control.
In Matthew 19:14 (KJV) Jesus said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
What role will you consider today?