Outraged, saddened, disappointed: these all describe my reaction to a news story I recently read. The headlines tipped me off that this was not going to leave me feeling optimistic about our society’s interest in caring for our most vulnerable.
Is this what we have come to? Do children and youth have to beg us to provide nurturing, a family, a home? Do we, as a society, have so little interest in vulnerable children that they must stand on the sidewalk and beg for someone, anyone, to love them? There is something seriously wrong with this picture.
I’ll admit, my first reaction was to blame the child welfare system. I’m sure that is the ‘go-to’ response of many. I consider myself part of that system. Have I failed this 15-year-old? As emotions settled, so did my disappointment in my chosen profession. After all, child welfare is a system. It is not one person or one group of people. It is a huge network of professionals, para-professionals, and lay-persons who may or may not identify themselves as part of the formal child welfare system. It is caseworkers, judges, lawyers, foster parents, CASA workers, doctors, advocates, therapists, and mandatory reporters. We are all responsible for caring for vulnerable children.
More importantly though, the child welfare system is an essential part of our society, and a reflection of our society. If this story is a mirror into the nature of our society, our priorities, our goals and aspirations; I can’t imagine many people would say they like what they see. I certainly don’t. What will it take to change what we see in the mirror? What will it take to wake up and make abused and neglected children and youth a priority? I can dream of a day when potential foster and adoptive parents are turned away, not because they aren’t qualified but because there are MORE THAN ENOUGH people stepping up to care for our most valuable resource: our children.
PostScript: If you are interested in taking a more active role in the child welfare/foster care system, check out my post, 101 Ways to Get Involved In Foster Care. Children and youth like Davion need you, need all of us to care!