Foster care is designed to be a temporary respite for a child, yet in our society it often turns into a lifestyle and the world where a child grows up. When a child is abused or neglected he or she often can never return home. (In Illinois there are 18,,000 children in foster care and 54% never return home.) Harsh sentencing laws for nonviolent crimes also add abandonment to the equation. Due to the temporary nature of foster care, it’s not unusual for a child to rotate through more than 20 homes in his or her childhood. Group homes are an option to slow the revolving door of moves, but also introduce their own issues of lack of permanency and lack of family.
At Let it Be Us, we recruit long-term foster parents and adoptive parents through our Adoption and Foster Care Information Fairs. In partnerships with churches, libraries and school districts we’ve created home town meeting style events packed with information about how to become a foster parent and how to adopt through foster care. Experienced case workers and adoption recruiters from state and social service agencies present the facts as well as the children in their care who are in need of foster and adoptive parents. We’re breaking down the barriers to adoption from foster care so that these children can live in families that will support and guide them throughout their lives. One statistic we know is the most compelling reason why this program is important, and that is for every moment a child waits in foster care, the less likely he or she is to be adopted.
The History Of Foster Care in the U.S.
In the United States, foster care started as a result of the efforts of Charles Loring Brace. “In the mid 19th Century, some 30,000 homeless or neglected children lived in the New York City streets and slums.” Brace took these children off the streets and placed them with families in most states in the country. Brace believed the children would do best with a Christian farm family. He did this to save them from “a lifetime of suffering”  He sent these children to families by train, which gave the name The Orphan Train Movement. This lasted from 1853 to the early 1890’s [1929?] and transported more than 120,000 [250,000?] children to new lives.” When Brace died in 1890, his sons took over his work of the Children’s Aid Society until they retired.
The Children’s Aid Society created “a foster care approach that became the basis for the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997” called Concurrent Planning. This greatly impacted the foster care system. Children’s Aid works with the biological and foster parents to “achieve permanency”.“From the mid-1800’s to the eve of the Great Depression, orphan train children were placed with families who pre-selected them with an order form, specifying age, gender, hair and eye color. In other cases, trainloads of children were assembled on stages, train platforms or town halls and examined by prospective parents. “Conjuring the image of picking the best apple from the bin. Sometimes a child would be separated from his or her brothers and sisters, or would end up in a family that only wanted them to work. Most of the time the children were chosen by a loving or childless family”.
History Courtesy of Wikipedia