Foster care is supposed help children stay safe, overcome trauma, and grow up to create successful lives for themselves. And there are many child caring professionals who put their love into action to do just that every day. But for the many children who die in foster care every year, Natalie Finn who was starved to death by her foster-turned-adoptive parents, it's a different story.
And the problem is not just in California. It's in every state. Illinois State Representative Tom Weber reported that an average of 112 foster children died every year in Illinois between 2010 and 2021. Even the small state of Maine reported 25 deaths in foster care in 2021. We could go down the list of states and their reported fatalities.
These shocking numbers are a tragic reminder of the truth that not all child welfare is safe. Some children die in foster care through no fault of their caregivers. Some were born with addictions, health problems or complications at birth. Some die as a result of the severe abuse they suffered before entering foster care. But many of the deaths of children in foster care could have been prevented--but weren't. And one death is too many.
NEW STUDY IDENTIFIES FOSTER CARE PROVIDERS WITH NO REPORTED TRAGEDIES
Our Love Is Action Community Initiative partner, Association of Christian Childcare Administrators (ACCA), and Baylor University Institute For The Studies of Religion, and William Wubbenhorst, MBA, former Associate Commissioner for the Family and Youth Services Bureau, worked together to facilitate the preliminary study below that suggests that children are safer in Christian foster care!
Five years of certified insurance claims information for participating members of ACCA (representing approximately 1500 children over that time period) was reviewed. The good news is that there were no deaths of children who were in the care of the study participants, while at the same time children were dying in other foster care settings across the country.
Successful survivors of childhood trauma are strong, resilient, resourceful people. They have acquired character traits, learned abilities and survival skills through their painful experiences. Those are the assets that help them create successful lives. We at Successful Survivors Foundation and the Love Is Action Community Initiative grieve for the children who never get the opportunity to become successful survivors.
A broader study is needed to understand the specific practices implemented by good, safe child welfare organizations, because when we know what works to keep kids safe and to help them thrive, we can measure all child welfare organizations and foster care providers by those standards and thereby save the lives of children who have already suffered too much.
"This study is hopefully the first of many that will give people a better understanding of how compassionate, relationship-intensive Christian and other faith-based programs are helping to meet the needs of vulnerable children, families and communities. Researchers like myself need the active participation and cooperation of these organizations to help tell the story." --William Wubbenhorst, MBA, former Associate Commissioner for the Family and Youth Services Bureau.
"The study completed by the combined efforts of The Association of Christian Childcare Administrators and Baylor University is of critical importance. Our effort to provide quantifiable data which demonstrates the high quality of care given to children in crisis served by faith based child welfare organizations is encapsulated in this study. This ACCA study is affirming the “good news” of the incredible work that is done on a daily basis by those faith based agencies engaged in the noble labor of loving and caring for children in crisis." --Kurt Hetherington, President James Green & Associates
"Having been in foster care myself, I was shocked to learn that no other study has looked at the likelihood that children make it out of foster care alive. We have to do better for kids, and we can because we've identified the organizations that have cracked the code on doing it safely. We can learn from them and give these victims of abuse an opportunity to become the strong, resilient successful survivors they can be." --Rhonda Sciortino, founder Successful Survivors Foundation
It costs about $30,000 to conduct the in-depth study that could help change the quality of life for foster children throughout the US, which means keeping children safe and giving them a chance to create successful lives.
Will you help us conduct the broader study that will help save
the lives of children who have already suffered too much?
Rhonda Sciortino spent the first 16 years of her life in the child welfare system. She has dedicated her adult life to standing up for those who cannot protect or defend themselves. Rhonda is the founder of Successful Survivors Foundation and the national champion of the Love Is Action Community Initiative.