With more than 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system and over 5700 in Alabama (Alabama DHR), there’s a great need for care in this area. In fact, there has been a significant increase in the number of foster children in the system; it’s estimated that six percent of all U.S. children will be in foster care. The system, while vexed with significant challenges and complex in nature, has many well-meaning people working around the clock to make it right.
Foster parents and children often need access to resources that, while available from organizations and agencies, may not be in their network or on their radar. Foster Coalition aims to bridge the gap between resources and foster parents and children. In this way, we act as an information hub and vital connection between organizations and agencies and those who need care within the foster system.
By bridging this gap, Foster Coalition works to ensure that foster parents, families, volunteers, and other interested parties are able to adequately support foster youth. We strive to make foster care a better system—whether the eventual end goal is family reunification, kinship placement, adoption, and/or independence.
Foster children are among the most vulnerable in our society. The Bible calls us many times to care for vulnerable individuals, in particular orphans and widows (James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17). The need for a connected and developed foster care system is great.
Alarmingly, almost 60% of young men who age out of the foster care system and are legally independent have been convicted of a crime. Comparatively, 70% of young women who age out of the system become pregnant before their 21st birthday.
Young adults brought up in the foster care system have their share of challenges as well. Nearly one out of every four foster care children who age out of the system will not graduate from high school or have the tools to obtain their GED. It’s estimated that 33% of homeless young adults aged 18 to 25 were once part of the foster care system.
Parenting isn’t easy, no matter the situation. However, adoptive and foster parenting present their own set of challenges as well. This said, the right resources can help make all the difference. More than 40% of school-aged children in foster care have educational difficulties. A focus on educational resources can help a child with learning difficulties build confidence and reach new academic milestones. Foster Coalition helps link foster families with these kinds of needs to churches and other organizations that can provide financial, tutoring, and other means of support.
Our role in the fostering world is simple: We aim to connect agencies, organizations, churches, and individuals looking to support those in the foster care system. This includes support for full-time foster and adoptive families. We strive to provide solutions that work in many ways.
We do this by offering:
• Resources for all parties involved in the foster community, including a list of organizations and their contact information. We also provide items like career identification and counseling for the aging-out youth.
• Tools for recruiting workers for foster positions through churches since they are the largest collective source for qualified workers. They can provide support groups for foster parents, birth parents needing help to keep their children from entering the foster system, and new parents raising a newborn.
• Education about what organizations offer to coalition members with regular video, conference, and continuing education where organizations share what they offer and how to receive benefits.
• Communication to unite the community and change the public image of foster children and parenting.
• A passionate approach to the foster community, helping to identify and develop leaders to advocate and support foster children.
We are a resource for foster children and the organizations who work closely with foster families and communities. One of our most essential roles is an information and connection hub.
Foster Coalitions strives to identify stakeholders who will offer valuable resources for foster parents, children, potential adoptive parents, and communities of support. We work with others in a plethora of capacities, including fundraising, resource collection, and more.
Additionally, we work to identify roles an organization can play in the foster community to ensure a robust, fulfilling, and beneficial relationship.
Organizations that we work with include:
• Government Agencies
• Local Foster Agencies, Ministries, and Nonprofit Organizations
• Counselors and Mental Healthcare Providers
Foster Coalition is not just for foster parents or anyone considering becoming a foster parent. We aim to provide concise and thorough resources for foster youth too. Part of our role is to offer the children within the foster care system a simple and easy-to-understand resource center to answer all questions relating to the foster community. They are the heart of why we started our work and give us the drive to continue with our work.
We believe in helping those who are among some of the most vulnerable in society, as the Bible calls us to do. We wish to mitigate daily challenges and bring parties involved in foster care into coordination together.