Why Foster Care Matters

Jonathon Sampson, a Thornwell foster care staff member, stands in front of the House of PeaceI never wanted to be a foster parent. It’s not that I was against it, but it’s something I had never considered. My wife, before we were even married, shared her desire to help children and families through foster care and adoption. Again, I wasn’t against it, but I didn’t put much thought into it after that conversation.

Fast-forward a few years, and my wife brought it up again.

“What if we were houseparents?” she asked.

She showed me a few places online, and I ended up being on board. We packed up all our stuff and our dog, and moved from Michigan to Clinton, South Carolina. Almost three years and 67 foster kids later, foster care is my life. We loved being houseparents and loved the privilege of caring for so many amazing kiddos.

That’s why it matters to me, but what about you?

Scary Numbers

As of September 30, 2015 there were 427,910 kids in foster care nationwide. This number has been rising for the past few years. That’s about the same as the populations of Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia, Charleston, and Rock Hill combined. That’s a really big and scary number, but I’ll try to simplify it. As of last month, there were 4,227 kids in foster care in South Carolina. Overall, South Carolina needs about 1600 additional foster homes to meet the current need. Wherever you live, there is a need for foster parents. There are children in your community who need a safe, stable, loving home.

Scarier Futures

Children who age out of foster care without a forever family are much more likely to end up unemployed, in prison, or pregnant as a teenager. If someone can reach these kids and change some of these statistics, our communities will be much better off. Less crime, less unemployment and homelessness, fewer unplanned pregnancies, and many other societal issues can be improved by a strong foster care community. Being willing to help those in your own neighborhood who may be struggling can have so many benefits beyond just helping a child (which is totally worth it on its own). You’re helping a family heal and a community come together.

How You Can Help

So how can you help? You can become a foster parent. Contact a local agency (I’m partial to Thornwell, since I work there and it’s awesome) and get more information about how you can begin the process. If you can’t become a foster parent, then support foster parents. Find out who in your church, school, or neighborhood are already fostering, and ask them how you can help. Ask your local foster care agency (like Thornwell) or foster parent association what needs they have, and do your best to meet those needs. There are dozens of ways that you can help foster parents around you. If you want more ideas, contact me and we’d love to help! Just fill out the form below.

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