Misconceptions in Foster Care
All too often, the only source of information about foster care is from negative news stories, which perpetuate and reinforce negative myths and falsehoods about foster care. For example, many people mistakenly think that people only become foster parents for the money and that children in foster care are irrevocably damaged.
In the experience of SOS Children’s Villages Illinois, nothing could be further from the truth. The Foster Parents we work with provide tremendous love and support to wonderful children in foster care through no fault of theirs. We’ve also witnessed many former children in foster care excel in school, graduate from college, and build successful careers.
While all the situations and circumstances of foster care are not perfect and problems do exist, genuine foster care efforts provide a safe and stable environment for children who cannot be with their families for some reason. Foster care is committed to ensuring that all children are safe from abuse and neglect.
Reviewing the Facts
Unfortunately, the number of children who need the safety and protection of foster care to thrive outweighs the number of available foster families. Understanding the facts will hopefully enlighten more people to provide loving and nurturing support for children in need.
- Nationally, nearly half of all children in foster care are reunited with their families, and over 25 percent are adopted. In Illinois, 42 percent of children (under 18) in foster care were reunited with their families, and 37 percent were adopted.
- In 2019, 426,749 children were in foster care in the US (252,312 entered foster care in the same year), and 18,317 (6,709 entered foster care the same year) were in foster care in Illinois.
- The average length of stay in foster care was 19.8 months in the U.S. in 2019, and 28.6 months in Illinois.
- Children in SOS Children’s Villages Illinois repeatedly achieve a 100 percent high school graduation rate, although only 50 percent of children in foster care nationwide graduate from high school.
- Annually, more than 75 percent of high school graduates from SOS Illinois attend college to pursue associate’s or bachelor’s degrees; nationally, only three to eleven percent of children in foster care complete a bachelor’s degree.
- Children in foster care are not there because of anything they’ve done wrong. They are in foster care because their families couldn’t take care of them for various reasons.
- The average age of children in foster care is seven years old, although infants and teens are also in foster care.
- The parents of children placed in foster care are not horrible people. They are human beings who may have experienced trauma or are dealing with difficult situations, such as poverty, substance abuse, mental illness, homelessness, loss of a job, or lack of support from extended family and community. They make mistakes just like everyone.
Why It Matters
Being a Foster Parent is challenging work, and the reality is a limited few are truly ready to take on the important work of transforming lives. It would be unfortunate if misinformation prevented people from becoming foster parents. We encourage you, if you are interested in this incredible act of dedicating your life for the betterment of others to seek accurate information about foster care, learn about the unique SOS Illinois model, and read about how our Foster Parents change lives. Your family and your love could be what changes the course of a child’s life.
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Foster Parent at SOS Illinois, we offer resources here to get you started.