International (MNN) — May is National Foster Care Month, which is “a time to recognize that we each can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care,” the Children’s Bureau says.
Foster Care on a Global Basis
While National Foster Care Month focuses on the foster children in America, millions of children worldwide are in need of foster care. Further, the number of vulnerable children continues to rise due to the opium crisis in the United States, and the global refugee crisis that has separated families or left children orphaned.
“We’ve never seen such a global refugee crisis. It’s greater than World War II. We have never seen so many refugees and because of that, there are children without parents,” Bethany Christian Services’ President Chris Palusky says. “So, the need to find foster care for children has just grown tremendously.”
Palusky shares there are around 400,000 children in need of foster care in the United States. In other nations, there are tens of thousands in a single refugee camp.
“In southern Ethiopia, there’s a refugee camp called Gambela. There’s approximately 600,000 refugees there. There’s a need of 26,000 foster homes for kids just in that refugee camp.”
Bethany is helping to establish foster care programs around the globe. They’re connecting churches and foster families so children will have stable homes that reflect the love of Christ.
Currently, Bethany is doing foster care work in nine states and seven countries including Haiti, Ethiopia, South Africa, Albania, Colombia, Cambodia, and Uganda.
Bethany is working to decrease the number of children looking for a stable home by creating partnerships with the government and organizations. They’ve recently started working with the United Nations in Ethiopia and will be kicking off a program today.
“That’s to help meet the needs of thousands of children that are missing their parents,” Palusky says. “So, it’s foster care in refugee camps, and that’s in alignment so we’ve been working with the United Nations to make sure that we’re meeting international standards and it’s well coordinated. It’s not just something that Bethany’s doing, but it’s part of an organized response to the refugee crisis. So, we are part of a machine, and we’re not just doing something on our own.”
The Impact of Foster Care Homes
Stable foster care homes make a great difference and impact in children’s lives. For those who are ‘tossed around’ to different foster care homes, they often have challenging futures once they age out of the system.
For instance, in the United States Palusky says, “Their chances at success in life are slim. So, the number that I heard the other day was 50 percent of children who age out of the foster care system and that are not associated with a family are incarcerated after I think it’s three or four years. So, you just hear like large percentages of kids that are on drugs, that are in prostitution.”
About 23,000 children age out of the foster care system every year in the United States.
A report by CNN in 2014 stated one in five children will become homeless after age 18. Only half will have a job by age 24. Seventy-one percent of women will be pregnant by age 21, and only about three percent will earn a college degree.
In third-world nations, the conditions children face is equally troubling. However, Palusky says stable foster care gives children a better and more successful path.
“If you’re looking at a street child in a place like Ethiopia or Uganda, when they are in… a good loving family that Bethany can ensure that there’s quality there, then they have a greater chance of success at life. So, they’re not going to be trafficked, they’re not going to be used for prostitution,” Palusky says.
Foster care greatly increases opportunities and options for children to succeed.
This month is an imperative reminder because it encourages people to get involved “and it’s such a great opportunity again to be the hands and feet of Christ, to influence vulnerable children’s life, and I just want to again encourage people to don’t become stagnant, and get involved in something that can really be impactful,” Palusky says.
Please pray God would open the right homes to children across the globe. Pray He would use families to be excellent witnesses and testimonies of His love for the children.
If you feel called to foster children or to adopt, visit Bethany’s website here. You can be salt and light to children who are desperate for a loving home.