The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently released its annual Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report featuring data compiled in 2012. Looking closely at this year’s report, I am encouraged to see that the number of children waiting to be adopted continued to decrease – to slightly less than 102,000 (down from more than 106,000 last year).
Obviously, as president of an organization dedicated to family preservation and child welfare (Bethany Christian Services), I remain deeply concerned by the high number of vulnerable children waiting to be united with their forever family, and by the sudden rise of children entering foster care relative to the previous five years. However, when looking at the great strides we’ve made since 2002, when the number of children in foster care was 523,000 (according to the DHHS), I am hopeful that 2012 was an anomaly. I look to a day when we can say the number of waiting children in the United States is in the hundreds, rather than the thousands.
To help drive that forward, Bethany recently introduced the N.O.W. (No One Without) campaign. This was implemented earlier this year in a number of states across the country to raise awareness for foster care adoption, while making the process of adopting children in foster care easier for families with love in their hearts and room in their homes.
One major hurdle preventing children in foster care from being adopted is the challenge in placing children from one state with a family in another state. This can be difficult because of differing regulations and restrictions state to state. At Bethany, we’ve realized that we have an obligation to do more. Therefore, we are committed to creating stronger internal resources to aid in overcoming these barriers: including a database system and internal network that will allow us to match foster care children with adoptive couples across the country. We are also committed to working through any and all challenges of interstate adoption. It is our belief that such efforts will lead to a higher number of foster care children being placed with loving families.
I would encourage readers of this blog to take a few minutes to review the information within the AFCARS report. Overall, the progress we’ve made is a testament to the hard work so many continue to put forth for those innocent children in desperate need of permanent loving and nurturing environments. It’s also a wake-up call that our work is far from over and that we must remain vigilant in our efforts if we are going to reach our objective of a loving family for each and every child in the United States (and around the world . . . but that’s a story for another day).
To find out how you can be part of the solution, visit www.Bethany.org.