Black people have a history of making the best out of bad situations. In slavery, all we had was God. In segregation, we became the hands and feet of God. In integration, we became the voice of God. Now, when vestiges of each of these times remain, we need the entire body of God more than ever. It’s time to rely upon God, ourselves, and others to solve the crises of our day – and a major but often unnoticed crisis is the foster care system.
Because black families were intentionally broken apart during slavery, our ancestors developed the models for extended and blended families. Very few people were left without the care of somebody. These models continued in segregated neighborhoods where every child playing in the street could be sure that every adult in front of them was their parent – at least for that moment. People took responsibility. Children felt the care.
Today, not only do neighbors not know each other but many families live hundreds of miles apart from their closest relatives. Cultural factors, such as the preponderance of drugs in urban areas and the high rates of incarceration of black men, also known as the new slavery, continue to rip families apart and contribute to the overrepresentation of black children in the foster care system. More than 24 percent of children in foster care today are black, yet black children are only 14 percent of America’s child population.
Study after study reveals the negative impact of being a foster child in America today and, among all deprived children, black children are among those who suffer the most. How do we make the best out of this bad situation? Harvest of Hope Family Services Network, Inc., is on a mission to eliminate foster care in America by providing the best alternative – loving homes for every child in need.
Through a network of church groups, with donor support and with the concern of individuals such as yourself, we are creating viable solutions for communities across the United States. The most critical piece, however, is ensuring we have capable families who can provide stable and loving environments for our children.
Almost every state reports overburdened foster care systems, particularly those states now battling opioid epidemics and deportation of millions of illegal immigrants who may leave American children behind. As bad as the situation is, it’s poised to get worse. Predications run as high as double the 428,000 children now in foster care.
This is a massive, urgent problem that actually has a pragmatic solution: Families need to be recruited, trained and certified to become foster parents and then supported once they do so. While we create the networks to undertake this work, we need to raise awareness so that people can prepare themselves to give their best.
Even when we didn’t remember the African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child, we carried that mission through turbulent times. The job is far from done.
Can you make room in your life for a child in need? If not, who do you know who can? Convince them to become a foster parent and pledge to support them in their journey. Connect with a Harvest of Hope church or other caring group that can provide even more support.
Let’s make the best of these troubling times. Let’s focus on our children.