Imagine you are put in charge of a coffee shop. There is a big tank with 150 cups of coffee in it and you’re tasked with serving the coffee, but you only have 30 cups. What do you do with the rest of the coffee? There are some big air pots that you can put a bunch of coffee in and you find a few thermoses, and there are some mugs in other coffee shops that can take the coffee, but ultimately you know that the coffee is designed to be in a mug in your coffee shop.
It may sound silly, but this describes the current foster care situation in Laurens County. As of earlier this month, there are about 145 children in foster care and only 33 licensed families. So where are the other kids? They try to keep children in foster families as close to their hometown as possible, but some are placed in group homes and others are sent to foster families in other counties. They look in neighboring counties first, but children are often placed an hour or more from everything they’ve ever known. If they can’t find a foster home that can care for siblings, brothers and sisters could end up hours away from each other. We desperately need more foster families so that abused and neglected children are able to maintain some form of consistency in their lives with their surroundings or their siblings.
Sadly, this isn’t just a Laurens County problem – this is the case in most counties across South Carolina. Just in the upstate there are 1657 children in foster care and 904 foster homes, which leaves a gap of more children than available homes. That’s a lot of coffee that we don’t have enough mugs for. For the statistics people out there, we have 36.6% of the children in foster care in our state are in the upstate, and we have 31.7% of the states foster homes. We know that being a foster parent isn’t the right thing for everyone, but if you have ever thought about it or if this silly analogy got you thinking, we’d love to talk to you about it.
James 1:27 tell us that True spirituality that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values (TPT). Most translations say visit, look after, or care for the orphan and the widow. I like how the passion translation uses the phrase ‘make a difference.’ It’s a clear call to action, but it leaves room for each person who reads it to decide how they can best live that out. We aren’t called to solve all of the problems facing the most vulnerable in our community, we’re simply called to make a difference. For you that may look like becoming licensed and welcoming children into your home. For someone else it may be supporting and encouraging the foster families in our community so that they can more effectively love on the children in their care.
Whatever that may look like for you and your family, know that you don’t have to do it all. We would love to talk to you and help you figure out what making a difference looks like in your family. If we all do a little, a lot will get done.
(Statistics are from https://www.care2foster.org/the-numbers/)