Currently, there are more than 400,000 youth in the U.S. foster care system, 104,000 of whom are available for adoption. Children end up in foster care for various reasons, but generally speaking, it’s because something tragic has happened in their families of origin, such as abuse, neglect, homelessness or domestic violence. After a difficult start in life, the longer kids remain in care, the less likely they are to get their lives back on track. Each year, about 26,000 youth age out of the foster care system without ever finding a family to call their own, which puts them at significantly higher risk for poverty, homelessness, incarceration and early pregnancy.
The single biggest problem facing our nation’s foster care system is a lack of qualified, stable and loving families willing to provide forever homes to youth in care.
The goal of foster care is family reunification, but when that isn’t possible, it is the state’s responsibility to investigate every possible opportunity when searching for a permanent, loving and stable home to ensure the best possible fit for each individual child.
This month, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) announced their plan for a bipartisan, bicameral reintroduction of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF), a bill that would make great strides in easing the foster care crisis in this country. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act is a child welfare bill that promotes the best interests of children in foster care by increasing their access to qualified, loving and permanent forever families. ECDF prohibits states from denying or delaying placements based on the prospective parents’ sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status, or based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child involved.
To read more, visit the Huffington Post.