These past weeks have been most challenging and uncertain. The routines of our lives have been turned upside down. We wonder when things will get back to what each of us knew as normal.
This level of challenge and in many ways trauma, is all too often part of what occurs for children entering the foster care system. While today there is much uncertainty, there are some very important things we can learn from foster care to guide us in these unprecedented times.
Here are five takeaways from foster care that I believe can inform us and provide some guidance:
1. Even Though We are Separated, We are Together
As you may know, 75% of children who enter foster care are separated from their siblings. The SOS Children’s Villages model creates a home where children can live together and continue to keep that strong sibling bond.
For us, who may be feeling estranged from our own family and friends, we, like children in foster care, can work to keep our familiar bonds strong and supportive at this special time. We may be physically distant at this time, but we do not have to be socially disconnected from one another.
2. Uncertainty, Fear, and Brokenness Can Be a Source of Hope
I was recently on a conference call with Foster Parents. Our discussion quickly moved beyond fear to our collective notion of hope in each other. We trust that despite having to remain physically apart (out of love for others), we are united and most capable of conquering fears to reestablish the certitude of our hope in each other to create a better tomorrow.
3. We Are All Looking to Establish Stability and Security Once Again
The story of foster care begins when lives are shattered and broken apart. From that very first moment of entering out-of-home care, we have as a goal of what is called in foster care “permanency”. Today each of us continues to wonder when stability, routines, and permanency will be established again. While the moment may be unsure, the goal remains in our sights of once again securing a sense of permanency. This is what motives us and guides all our actions each day.
4. Unconditional Love is a Force Far Stronger than Any Virus
Over these past weeks, I have witnessed from our highly dedicated staff and many donors, a willingness to provide support and love to our Foster Parents and the children in our care. Most recently, a donor offered to provide home-delivered meals to each of our Villages. It is love for the other that is at the core of who we are. The power of love is the antidote that strengthens and heals every child in foster care. It is an energy which moves us beyond the pains of uncertainty and creates opportunities for us to share that love with others. This is our moment for such an important force in all our lives.
5. We Need Our Institutions to Behave with Moral Authority
Every child in foster care must deal with the DCFS system, the judicial system, public guardian’s office, educational systems, behavioral and medical health systems, and an array of institutional practices to recapture stability and permanency in their lives. When one or more of these institutional practices fails or refuses to act, the progress of the child’s life is halted. Each of these institutions must act in favor of the vulnerable life. Our ability to guide and support institutional practices is essential for the well-being of not only the individual but society.
Respectfully, I share these thoughts so that we may see that each of us are in some form of foster care today trying to mediate uncertainty and fears.
But, no one stays in foster care forever.
There is great hope, love, and strength in our togetherness. Our Village Model of Care is a collective force that heals and inspires.
Together, we journey as a Village toward permanency and stability once again.
Supporting SOS Illinois During this Crucial Time
The support of our generous donors, partners, and friends is always of immense help. Now, your support is even more crucial. Learn how you can support the children and families we serve during this unprecedented time and make your gift online today.
Special Notice on Giving During COVID-19
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act provides significant funding for businesses, hospitals, schools, and social support programs, and more. It directly impacts charitable giving in the following two ways:
- The Bill includes an above-the-line deduction (universal or non-itemizer deduction that applies to all taxpayers) for total charitable contributions of up to $300. The incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed on tax forms next year. (Section 2204.)
- The Bill also lifts the existing cap on annual contributions for those who itemize, raising it from 60 percent of adjusted gross income to 100 percent. For corporations, the bill raises the annual limit from 10 percent to 25 percent. Food donations from corporations would be available to 25 percent, up from the current 15 percent cap. (Section 2205.)
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