It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that with 4,700 children in foster care in Arkansas that we’re in crisis.
Social workers are overworked, underpaid, and exhausted. Foster parents are exhausted and short on emotional support. Everyone — CASA workers, social workers, foster parents, CALL employees and volunteers, judges, and all the other people involved in the foster care process are running ragged trying to do what they can to help these children.
We have a crisis, but in order to make an effort to turn things around we have to first understand what the crisis is: A crisis of the heart.
Why do we have so many children in foster care?
Sin is rampant and often socially acceptable as the Bible said it would be. It is normal and even encouraged to have sex outside of marriage without concern of the consequences. Does it surprise anyone that many of the kids in care have 3-4 siblings with different fathers?
We have single mothers and fathers trying to take care of children on one income with one parent when God’s original intention was for men and women to raise children together.
Drugs and alcohol are a way of life for many people. There are a lot of people out there that see chronic drinking and abusing certain drugs as a “personal choice,” not a problem. However, statistics has proven that about 58% of children taken into care are taken as a direct result of drug abuse.
Then you have to consider the indirect results of drug abuse. People using drugs often spend all of their time being under the influence or trying to figure out how to get that next fix. They’re not worried about paying the bills, cleaning the house, or making sure there’s food in the pantry for the kids. They’re often not worried about the kids at all — they’re seen as a nuisance.
That’s where you get some of the other statistics from: 45% of children are taken into care due to neglect, 18% due to incarceration, 17% due to physical abuse, 11% due to inadequate housing, and 4% due to sexual abuse.
Parents on drugs can end up arrested or resorting to physical violence with their kids. They don’t really know who they’re inviting in their house and there have been too many cases to count of strange men/women molesting children inside their home. Drugs dull the senses and erase most of the common sense a person has.
Not all children taken into care come from drugged out single parents — just a large portion of them. Incarceration, physical abuse, housing, and sexual abuse are big culprits as well and those things can (and do) happen in two-parent households.
Sin is a huge part of the crisis.
The other part of the crisis is our response to these problems. The Bible says we are to take care of the orphans (James 1:27). This crisis is a problem for the church to help solve. Most Christians would agree with that statement.
However, not nearly as many Christians are able to follow through. We watch people all the time nod their head in agreement and shed tears for the foster children during recruitments at churches, but less than half of those people decide to do something about it. Many of us are content going through life sitting in our pew agreeing that something needs to be done without ever getting up and saying, “I want to help.”
There are about 1,600 foster children in the state of Arkansas who don’t have a home to sleep in tonight. They’re sleeping in group homes, institutions, or DHS offices. We’ve become part of the crisis. Our unwillingness to help has enhanced the current problem.
Not everyone is called to foster. Not everyone is called to adopt. There is something that we can do though. God has given each of us time, gifts, and talents that we can use to further His Kingdom and serve Him. Use what you have. Not all of us board members were called to foster. However, some of us were given the gift of leadership, teaching, hospitality, encouragement, compassion, and specific talents in finance, media, organization, etc…
Some of us have more time than others. Those that have less time just try to use the time they have wisely and effectively for Him. We’re all different and we’re all meant to serve in different capacities.
Ignoring God’s call is disobedience — no matter what He’s calling you to do. As the body of Christ, we need to recognize sin as the enemy — the crisis — and do something about it.
We need to stop being a part of the problem and work towards being part of the solution.
Is God calling you to be a part of the solution? What gifts or talents do you have that could help the current situation?