Statistics and Application
Foster care month flooded our social media with information about foster care, aging out, homelessness, human trafficking, and a plethora of other topics pertaining to the challenges of those involved with foster care. Following large groups of people who are working in the same field has it’s advantages, but the massive amount of information can be overwhelming.
I try to imagine what it would be like to receive so much information when one has no immediate involvement with the system. Would it help to know that youth aging out of state care often don’t finish high school or college? Would it help to know that youth in foster care and those leaving foster care are more vulnerable to human trafficking? Do those statements make you want to learn more? Does it help anyone?
I think about that especially when I see numbers on a social media post.
There are a lot of numbers that go around, and some estimates are hard to trace back to a source. That often leads to a lack of accountability in action. Normally, when someone creates a statistic, that statistic has a purpose. It furthers a goal or an idea. But when we see the stand alone quote:
“There are over 423,000 children and youth in foster care in the US”*
What do we do with that?
Do we feel compelled to take action? Do we feel overwhelmed and hopeless? Do we understand the cost of our response? The intended purpose of the number wasn’t to stir action, it was to account for the presence of children in the care of the state for their safety. However, when one chooses to place themselves into the story of the foster care system, that number becomes so much more important.
I want to give a challenge to anyone reading: allow God to direct you when you hear statistics.
Allow Him to direct the research needed to confirm & validate the information, to give you the strength to answer a calling or the peace of mind to carry on when the action needed doesn’t belong to you. And the wisdom to know the difference. Numbers are just numbers until we put a purpose behind them - let God discern the purpose. All believers have a Biblical calling to care for the vulnerable, but we all have a unique place in the Body of Christ where we get to serve with our talents. When you hear a statistic that sparks something within you, seek the Lord.
Foster Care Awareness Month has passed now, but the information shared doesn’t lose it’s importance. If you’re not sure what to do next, we encourage you pray! You can send us any questions and we’re happy to point you to more resources.
Connected to this concept is an article on new human trafficking statistics. This next piece is extremely important for advocates and organizations to note. We have linked it below.
Update on Foster Care & Human Trafficking Statistics: https://www.fillingemptyframes.org/single-post/update-on-foster-care-human-trafficking-statistics
*If you see a post with numbers we encourage you to always check the source. This quote, which we found on a social media post, didn’t provide a source. However, you can always check this number against AFCARS (the US Administration for Children and Families) reports. When you go and check the numbers, you will see more than the 423,000 - you will see that in 2019, the most recent support, 423,997 children were in care on September 30th when the official count happens, AND that 672,594 children were served in foster care that same year. Because of the constant movement in the system between homes, reunification, and adoption, there are many more children who needed foster families throughout the year than children who were reported as being in care on the day of the tally. Link: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/afcars