One of America’s most glaring problems involves its most vulnerable citizens, and the people in power need to be more informed on how to help. Children in foster care are facing serious problems that demand to be addressed, and California-based non-profit Together We Rise just hosted a successful campaign in Colorado that will directly impact the lives of some foster children in Denver.
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Between Jefferson, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties, there are around 1,000 kids living in foster care. In the state of Colorado, there are 2,131 total children and teens living in foster care. By far, the biggest need of the foster care system in the state is the need for more foster parents. Colorado has a shortage of foster homes, with only 2,000 homes currently certified.
Many potential foster parents are hesitant to open their homes to the scrutiny of the homestudy. This is the test that parents must undergo in order to be certified as a safe home for children. Kate Feeback, the director of the international adoption program at the Nightlight Christian Adoptions agency in Loveland, Colorado, tried to put this fear to rest, saying, “Homestudy programs are 30% clearances and 70% education because a parent needs to be prepared for the challenges of raising an adopted child.”
Foster children are taken from their homes and their parents. They are often rushed to pack all of their belongings into a trash bag, then placed with strangers for an indefinite amount of time. These children need a space to live.
One adoptive mother confirmed that all the hard work is well worth it. In an interview with Rachel Auch, the third time mother stated, “Now that he’s home, I ask myself, ‘How did we do life without this kid?’ He is the most pleasant person. It’s like seeing the world through new eyes.”
Together We Rise is a non-profit based in California that was started by a group of young adults who are passionate about improving the lives of foster kids in America. They advocate and fundraise for foster kids around the nation.
TWR hires interns across the country to run their own fundraising campaigns for the organization. A recent campaign across Fort Collins and Denver used social media to raise awareness while fundraising. This campaign raised over $1,100, enough for 42 Sweet Cases. The Sweet Cases project raises enough money for brand new duffel bags filled with essentials so that foster children have something nice to move their belongings in.
At the time, Emma-lee Jordan was the intern manager for Together We Rise. In a meeting with her, she once said, “One of the biggest challenges we face is that people just don’t know much about the foster care system. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and one of our missions is to educate people.”
“Most people don’t realize that they can help out without opening up their home. That’s a big commitment that not everyone can do. But there are smaller things that anyone can do,” says Jordan. TWR wants to offer people the chance to give these children something they would not have otherwise. Through their programs, foster children can receive a bike, a birthday gift, a duffel bag, or even a college scholarship.
TWR collaborates with volunteers, social workers, CASA advocates, and others. They also work with various communities to meet kids’ specific needs. Through fundraising with these partners, they can give foster kids unique opportunities that otherwise would have been missed.
THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM
There is a small and silent demographic in our nation. Its members are unable to affect their story’s ending. They are forced to trust the people around them to have their best interests in mind, even when that may not be the case. This group is defenseless and often forgotten. These are the children in foster care.
On any given day, there are about 428,000 children in foster care in the US. Around 75% of foster children come into care because they were neglected. One study found that one in three children had been abused while in foster care. They often struggle in school and have a hard time finding employment. Children in foster care also report significantly worse mental health, citing that they are 12 times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs.
More children, especially teenagers, are in group homes than they are placed with families. Group settings are more expensive and less supportive for the child. Teens often age out of the system without the proper support needed for that transition, making it harder for them to go to college or even finish high school. Siblings are often separated from each other and kids are separated from their parents with very little focus on reunification. Children’s needs often go unheard and unmet.
These statistics begin to explain why many foster youth are used to feeling overlooked, neglected, and traumatized. Foster children may never feel stable or connected, and instead they risk missing out on the family and community ties critical for development.
Children are placed in foster care at no fault of their own. They are there to be taken care of, and Together We Rise wants to ensure that they are indeed receiving the proper care.
- Top left: Intern promotional picture
- Top right: Bear visits Elitch’s
- Second left: Supplies waiting to be packed in Sweet Cases
- Third left: Bear finds a home
- Bottom left: Young girl flaunting TWR stickers
- Bottom right: Teenage girl working on her homework, repping a TWR sticker