Delinquent. Troubled. Neglected. What do all these words have in common? They are all words used to stereotype and confine youth in the foster care system.
Imagine constantly being surrounded by kids who live with their parents and have people to call mum and dad. But you know you have to go back to a home with people who are just there to help out. This makes you feel self-conscious and ashamed of your identity when you’re really no different from anyone else. Children in care often struggle with the decision of revealing that they are in foster care. They wonder how the person will react after they’ve told them and if they would be treated the same afterwards. Growing up in the foster care system can be difficult, but is nothing to be ashamed of.
The media has always portrayed youth in care in a negative way. They are either poor and disadvantaged children or miracles because they’ve somewhat succeeded. For example, let’s look at the movie ‘Annie’. It’s about a poor and unprivileged girl who succeeds because she was taken in by a wealthy man. Nobody sees that she’s actually tried to make the most of her situation and be the best she can be.
Did you know that John Lennon, a member of the Beatles, actually grew up in foster care? Even people who are respected worldwide and are looked up to have been in care. This shows that the stigma of kids in care isn’t always the truth. Lennon went through a tough childhood after his mother neglected him yet he still coped with it all and grew up to be in one the most influential boy bands in the world. Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe and Nelson Mandela are others who were also in foster care.
There are over 100,000 children in foster care in England. The reasons for children being placed in care are domestic abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse, parent’s medical/mental health, or parents struggling to cope with their child’s behaviour or disability. However, the main reason for children being taken away is abuse or neglect followed by family dysfunction.
You’re probably wondering, what’s really the point of this speech. Well, what I’m going to tell you is why we need the foster care system and how everything would be a mess without it.
The foster care system is stereotyped to be a horrible and monstrous system that rips children away from their parents, when in reality the system actually helps removing kids from the danger of their own home. Children from new-born up until the age of 18 have been living in conditions that are so horrid you can’t even imagine. No child should have to go through that. Without foster carers where would these children go? They could end up on the streets or worse, be placed into a children’s home, which can be very traumatic for a child. Foster carers provide a safe and loving environment for these vulnerable children so they can have the chance to live how they should have before. These kids haven’t been given an opportunity and deserve to be given one as much as we all do.
I actually didn’t really know much about foster care or what wonders it can do for a child up until about 2 years ago when my parents made the best decision they could have and became foster carers. Being able to bring in babies and children into our home and giving them a chance is the best thing we could ever do. I’ve seen how traumatic life can be for children even at the age of 2 years old. A toddler once came into our care and on the second day of her being in our home, she already called my mum ‘mama’, just treated the word like any other. She came from her house all dirty, she ate with her hands and wanted to sleep on the floor because that’s all she ever knew. My family managed to make a difference in her life and help her change in under a month. That was only one child so imagine all the others who are still in those conditions and perhaps worse. We kids don’t realise how privileged we actually are to be loved and cared for by our own parents. Let’s all be grateful that we’ve got a roof over our heads and can share it with our families.
I hope today I have managed to change your view about fostering, and in the future you may choose to help those children who have not done anything wrong to be in care and give them a chance to live their lives. Thank you.
What is fostering? Fostering provides stability, care and family support to children or young people who are not able to live with their parents. There…