Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What's a Foster Family?

A few years ago my husband and I made the decision to invite a young girl into our home and our heart.  What we learned is that the foster care process was both wonderful and awful.  We learned that we had an infinite capacity to love, that we were willing to step up when it counted and to offer a young girl a chance at a very different future.  We also learned that the foster care system in this country is a mess.  We filled out countless forms, we went to meetings and special training, and we found frustration at every turn.  Some of the staff we encountered were friendly and helpful, but most were overworked and overwhelmed by a system with archaic rules that often exasperated  rather than supported families.  

Our application to foster was actually held up because we had a pet hedgehog.  We had passed every interview and inspection, but we had mentioned our pet during an introduction game at a mandatory foster parent training and a week later a caseworker called and we were were told that our application could not be approved because hedgehogs are not considered a legal pet in Arizona.  It seemed so absurd that a small spiky pet no larger than a hamster would put the placement of a child at risk.  

Ultimately, we made the difficult decision to no longer continue fostering, but neither of us regret our decision to try and help.  Although our situation was not successful, I remain a strong advocate for Foster children and families. 

Recently an author asked me to review a new children’s picture book, What's a Foster Family? The story is about an only child whose parents start fostering.  The goal of this picture book is to raise awareness for foster children and recruit more foster families.  I quickly agreed to review the book, and my review is below.
What's A Foster Family? (Foster to Forever #1)What's A Foster Family? by Anne Garboczi Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a sweet, child friendly way for families to introduce the idea of fostering to young children. The illustrations are simple and effective, and children will relate to and enjoy reading this story. This is a great way for families to introduce the idea of fostering to young children.

There are many ways to help Foster children; you can volunteer to become foster parents or you can donate to organizations that support foster children.  One of my favorite groups is the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (http://www.affcf.org ).  

Foster children and families need our help, the statistics about Foster care are staggering:


  • 3,000,000 reports of child abuse or neglect are made every year in the United States?
  • Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit a violent crime?
  • Annually 600 teenage foster children turn 18 & "age-out" of foster care with limited support?
  • 40% of foster children are between the ages of 13 and 21?
  • 50% of foster children drop out of high school?
  • It is estimated that nationally a foster youth change placements about once every six months?
  • 50% of young women previously in foster care will become pregnant by 19 years old?
  • 25% of young men previously in foster care will father a child by 19?
  • 3 in 10 of the nation’s adult homeless are former foster youth? 
  • On average, only 7-13% of foster youth enroll in higher education? 
  • 1% of former foster children earn a college degree?
  • As of February 24, 2009, Maricopa County has 6,891 children in foster care placements?
  • Currently statewide there are approximately 10,000 children in foster care?
  • 35,000 reports of child abuse or neglect were made in Arizona last year?
  • In Arizona, 1,300 children a year wait more than three weeks in emergency shelters for a family?
  • 60% of child abuse victims also suffer from neglect?
  • A young child is more likely to die of child abuse or neglect in the Phoenix Metro Area than any other area in the Nation?


  1. Thanks for joining the Sunday Small victories Linkup. Pinned to the linkup board as well