Foster Children
(photo by permission of FosteringWA)

  • There is an URGENT NEED for more foster parents in Spokane.  Parents can provide foster care in a variety of ways:
    1. Short-term care
    2. Infants
    3. Teens
    4. Siblings
    5. Foster to adopt
    6. Be a respite provider for foster parents, to care for children in the foster parent's absence.
    7. or, Volunteer to drive foster children to therapeutic appointments. 

    Foster parents receive money from the State to assist with the care of foster children.  The children's medical and dental are covered by the State. 
    For more information:
    Fostering Washington
    http://spokanecares.org/index.php?org_ref=848&search=Fostering

  • Some people assume kids enter foster care, because they have done something wrong.  In reality, kids enter foster care because adults failed them - most are abused or neglected.  These kids were the victim of someone.  (Crystal Vail, Utah's Youth Services Program administrator, Deseret News, April 2, 2017)

  • “I think the problem is that foster parents don’t make sense to most people.  They don’t understand why we would take in other people’s children.  I warn people:  When you realize the need, it’s going to be hard to turn your back, even if it inconveniences your life.”  (a Foster parent of 23 years)
  • Of the 600,000 children being raised in the nation’s foster care system, about 75% have been separated from at least one sibling.  No matter how difficult their home life was, these children face separation issues.  For many, the trauma of being removed from their parents’ home is compounded by the separation from their siblings—a move often necessitated by the lack of foster homes.  Children often depend on their siblings more than their parents to get through really tough times.  They share a common knowledge about what happened to them.  
  • Of the 350 Washington children who “age-out” of foster care each year, about 40% fail to finish high school, lose health care, housing, and nearly all other support.  Within 2 years, a third of these youth will have children of their own.  One in five will spend time in jail. 

    The state has a plan to encourage foster children to continue their education, allowing them to remain in foster care—and receive health benefits—until age 21 if they go to college or receive vocational training.   On May 25, 2004, Washington extended health coverage to foster children only until age 19.  This new plan also seeks to end the practice of shuffling foster children from home to home by more quickly establishing a permanent home—either with biological or foster families. 

  • For many foster children, turning 18 means facing adulthood, suddenly and harshly, on their own.  Their real parents are unfit, and they have no permanent association with the unconditional support of family.  They have no one to share their joys with, or to help them during times of trial.  Many of these children are afraid.  They have developed barriers for self-protection, and will end up unemployed, receiving government help to meet their needs, or homeless, or in prison.  Who is willing to help these children heal, experience a stable family with a sense of belonging, and build a productive life?  Who is willing to unlock their enormous potential and restore their trust?
  • There are approximately 10,000 foster children in Washington, although nearly a third of those are placed with relatives rather than foster homes.  Monthly state stipend given to foster families, per child, is $369-$1300, based on a child’s age and level of need.  Foster parents are reimbursed by the state on a sliding scale for the costs of taking in abused or neglected children who need a home.  They also access medical coupons, clothing vouchers and other assistance for foster children.  
  • We simply need more good homes to place children in—homes which care about the children, not the increased income.  Unfortunately, a number of children in Washington have been abused, neglected and died in foster care.  
  • A one-parent foster home is usually limited to 4 children; a two-parent home is allowed to care for six children at any one time (exceptions are infants and medically fragile children – DSHS). 

  • Successful Alternative to Foster homes.  A 3-hour Foster Care Conference was held to assess San Diego County's broken foster care system.  Testimonies of kids in foster care was inspiring, motivational, and transformed the local leadership of county supervisors and juvenile court judges.  The dysfunction of foster care system was revealed; and the decision was unanimously made to create something new to give these kids a far brighter future. 

    As a result of generous donors and supporters, the San Pasqual Academy was established where foster kids would live together in group homes with house parents.  House parents work to create a home where the emphasis is on academics, work, work ethics, high school graduation, college preparation, employment, and the needs of the kids.  Kids thrive when they feel like they have a home and people who care about them.  Foster kids live together in this boarding school until they graduate from high school, where 95% graduate from high school, and 2/3 or more go on to college.  They leave the academy with hopes, dreams, aspirations and skills to survive.

    Today, the Courts take responsibility for parenting foster children; but, foster kids face insurmountable obstacles inside a dysfunction system that is suppose to be taking care of them.  Although some kids do very well, others become hardened as they move through a dozen or more foster homes.  Those kids have little chance to bond with parent figures. 

    For more information about San Pasqual Academy, San Diego, California, visit
    http://www.friendsofsanpasqualacademy.org;
    Friends of San Pasqual Academy (858) 759-3298; or Debby Syverson, San Pasqual Academy Development Liason at (619) 435-4557.  (Turning Point:  San Pasqual Academy, BYU TV, January 3, 2015,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh7rBUZUYfM)

  • "The Blind Side" (the movie).   Leigh Anne Tuohy, the woman who rescued a homeless African-American teenager, and then  adopted Michael Oher, stars in the inspiring TV series "Family Addition," which tries to to encourage people to get involved and turn foster homes into forever families.  Leigh Anne said, "There are Michael Oher's in every city in this country, and all they need is someone to love them.  There are a lot of people with a lot of worth and a lot of value, and they just need an opportunity."  
Statistics
  • In the month of January 2017, Spokane County's Home Finders Unit searched for 136 placements for youth in foster care. 

    • 79% of them were coded as emergent (new and urgent placements), and 21% of them were declared to be planned placement changes.
    • 35% of the placements were initial placements for children as opposed to placement changes.
    • Of the placements, 39% were for girls & 61% were for boys.
    • 52% of the children placed were part of a sibling group ranging in sizes of 2 children up to 5 children.
    • 14% of children placed were under the age of 1. 
    • 52% of children placed were 7 years of age and older. 
    • 26% of children placed were ages 12 and up. (Source:  Home Finders Unit, Spokane Children's Administration, Dept. of Social and Health Services, February 2017)

  • Spokane County has 700-800 children in the foster care program at any one time.  In Washington, more than 8,700 children are in State care, and there are only 5,000 foster homes.  (Embrace Washington, 2015-2016) 

  • CASA sees about 51 children going into foster care a month, and has about 964 kids in care at any one time.  The average age of children in the program is around 5 or 6.  (Pat Donahue, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program coordinator, "Handcrafted Compassion," The Spokesman-Review, Jan. 14, 2017)

  • Many foster children are waiting for adoption.  It is harder to find permanent homes for age 8 and older.  (Robyn Nance, Wednesday's Child, KXLY-TV reporter, Embrace Washington 2015 Benefit Breakfast)
  • The Spokane region places many new children in foster care each month—largely due to parents who have drug (mostly meth) and alcohol problems, as well as physical abuse and neglect.  Children may be placed for very short emergency stays, or may remain for years.
  • 70%  of children in foster care have another sibling in foster care.  Most of them are sent to live with separate families for a variety of reasons. (2013)  http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/siblingissues/index.cfm

  • About 40-60% of foster children have at least one mental health disorder.  They also suffer PTSD at two times the rate of returning war vets. (Embrace Washington, 2015)
  • Foster children average 3 different placement changes.
  • Foster children are twice as likely to
    • repeat a grade,
    • change schools mid-year,
    • lose about 6 months of progress per change,
    • drop out of high school.   (Embrace Washington 2015) 
  • Only about 3% of foster children go to college, and only 2% graduate from college.  They need to learn things like self-discipline, stop wasting time watching TV, and focus on the future.
  • 37% of foster youth drop out of high school, compared to 16% of the general population.
  • Within 18 months of aging out of the system, up to 50% of foster youth become homeless. 
  • Each year, about 20,000 children “age out” of the foster care system without ever finding a permanent family. 

  • 60% of these young men will be convicted of a crime, and 75% of these women will end up receiving government help to meet their needs.  (The congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute)
What You Can Do

Not all people can do everything, but everyone can do something.  Every child deserves to be deeply loved in a family.  Help reverse the current situation, so that the number of people on waiting lists to adopt or foster children, is longer than that of kids who need temporary or permanent homes.

Child abuse awareness and prevention is the entire community's responsibility to protect the unprotected.  Those in the community and positions of power (policymakers, government agencies, non-governmental agencies, faith-based groups) must not only discuss the need for child safety, but take action to make sure it happens.  
  • Become a foster parent.  There is an urgent need for more foster parents who can love and care for the 9,600 children in foster care every day in Washington—where we struggle to retain and recruit foster parents.  Eligible individuals must receive training.  In addition, background checks are run on everyone living in the household.

    If you are interested in becoming a Foster parent, contact
    Amber Sherman, Recruitment Coordinator
    Fostering Washington
    (509) 359-6130
    Email:  fosteringwa@ewu.edu
    http://www.fosteringwa.org
  • Become a temporary provider of emergency foster care.   You may be needed to help other foster parents occasionally, or accept children placed by police during off-hours, such as nights and weekends.  
  • Become a specialized/structured foster care provider, caring for children who require increased care due to severe emotional, behavioral, or developmental problems. 

  • Become a mentor to inexperienced parents, giving teen moms and fathers encouragement and strong parenting skills. 

  • Become a respite provider, and provide stressed foster parents with respite.  You must
    1. Be 18 years or older
    2. Complete and pass a background check
    3. Have a valid Driver's License
    4. Complete CPR/First Aid (we have a class available to you)
    5. Complete a TB test
      If you are interested, contact Fostering WA.
      http://spokanecares.org/index.php?org_ref=848&search=Fostering

  • Office Moms and Dads program, is available to most DSHS officers, where trained volunteers sit with children immediately following placement at DSHS, to offer comfort and support while social workers focus on finding the most appropriate place for those children to stay. 

  • Boxes of Love.  Put together some Boxes of Love for children entering foster care.  These boxes contain snacks, activities and hygiene items to help children in those immediate moments following removal from their homes. 
    or, Duffles for Darlings.  Decorate new duffle bags for children to place their personal belongings in. 
    or, Sewing Miles of Smiles.  Make stuffed animals to give to foster children.  (For more information, see Embrace Washington's contact information below.) 

  • CASA/GAL Volunteers (Court Appointed Special Advocates/Guardian ad Litem).  Volunteers investigate cases of child abuse and/or neglect and advocate, through the court system, to ensure a safe, permanent home for every child.  CASA is the child's voice in court.  For information about the CASA/GAL Volunteer program, contact:
    CASA/GAL
    1208 W. Mallon St
    Spokane, WA 99201
    http://www.casapartners.org 

    My Bag
    (a program of CASA).  Every foster child who comes into foster care gets a bag or backpack, depending on their age, filled with clothes, toys, school supplies, blankets, books, etc.  All of these items are new. 

  • Volunteer to be a mentor or advocate for a foster child by becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).  Call Fostering WA (on this page).

  • Invite Fostering WA staff to present to your service group, congregation, or business about becoming a foster parent.

  • Serve on community child welfare boards.  Help knock down small barriers that would prevent a family from taking a child who is in crisis. 

  • Become an advocate for children in the courts' legal system.  Work to find a positive, permanent outcome for children entrusted to you. 

  • Churches are part of the solution to the problems in society.  Help them promote programs that are proven.
  • Volunteer to tutor foster children.  
  • Donate clothing to Spokane's Teen Closet for foster children.  These clothes are given to foster children and their families for free. 

  • Donate suitcases to the foster programs.  The black garbage bag has become the official luggage of the foster-care system. 

  • If you want to learn more about becoming an adoptive or foster parent, call 1-888-KIDS-414, Fostering Washington.

  • Consider the Adam Fisher family.  East Valley's football coach Adam Fisher and his wife Jolene invited Rodrick Jackson to live in their home in 2016.  Rodrick had bounced from home to home and lived on the streets, until he told Adam Fisher that he wanted to turn his life around, but he needed help.  The Fisher home included 2 middle school-aged daughters.  Since moving in with the Fishers in March, Rodrick began to prosper in the classroom and in life, and was considered a part of the family.  When Rodrick turns 18 in December, he plans to legally change his last name to Fisher.  Adam Fisher said "We are literally living the 'Blind Side' movie." 

    Rodrick Jackson's story offers hope to other students who have contacted Rodrick and thanked him for inspiring them and having the courage to share his story.  A student from an area high school contacted Rodrick through Facebook and said, "My dad's in prison and my mom is a drug dealer.  You give me hope."  He said he hopes others in tough situations can potentially better themselves, if they have the courage to ask for help.  ("Story of East Valley football player Rodrick Jackson gains national interest," by Greg Lee, The Spokesman-Review, NW Preps Now, October 26, 2016)
Local Organizations
Additional Resources

Adoption.com

The world's largest and most-used adoption site, which also includes an "Adopting from Foster Care Guide." 
1-800-FAMILY-NOW  (800) 326-4596  Inc
http://www.adoption.com 

Embrace Washington
(509) 714-2799
http://embraceeasternwashington.org/
Learn how you can help foster children in the Spokane area. 

Spokane DCFS
(Dept. of Child and Family Services)
1313 N. Atlantic St., Ste 2000
Spokane, WA  99201
(509) 363-3550 
Foster Care Licensing
(509) 363-3510

Teen Closet (foster children and teens)

9212 E Montgomery
Spokane, WA
509-534-1154
http://www.teencloset.org 

Wednesday's Child
View adoptable foster children on KXLY-TV 4
Wednesdays at 6:00 pm
Robyn Nance - robynn@kxly.com 
http://www.kxly.com/features/wednesday-child

Creating Compassionate Foster Care:  Lessons of Hope for Children and Families in Crisis
by Spokane authors:  Janet Mann and Molly Kretchmar-Hendricks
This book is for foster parents, biological parents, children who grew up in foster homes, government policy makers, and those in the judicial system.  The book outlines best practices and real stories in the world of foster care.  It draws from real foster care situations and childhood attachment research to help foster caregivers and professionals better respond to the complex needs of children and parents in crisis.  Always consider a child's experience in foster care and ways of handling that.  Learn strategies that keep in mind the child's perspective and within the context of their relationships with early caregivers.  Learn how children form attachments and need a sense of security from infancy, along with what occurs when those elements are disrupted. 

Attachment is a core theme. 
Foster children, removed from a home because of abuse or neglect, are wounded by relationship problems and attachments gone wrong.  Infants and young children do not understand the concept of temporary, so attachment is really about survival.  If you have lengthy separations between children and biological parents, those foundational attachment relationships can be compromised.