Opinion Page – January 25, 2016
To the Editor:
“Mississippi Fights to Keep Control of Its Child Welfare System” (front page, Jan. 18) highlights the tragic shortage of safe, supported families for children in Mississippi’s child welfare system. But there is a solution.
Children do best in families, so systems need to invest in finding and supporting foster families and relatives who can care for them. When children cannot remain with their birth parents, the comfort of a grandparent or an aunt eases the trauma of separation.
When a relative isn’t available, foster moms and dads offer a family option. Children report overwhelmingly positive experiences with foster parents who care for them. Positive experiences are highest for children who live with kin.
Relatives and foster parents offer children safe and needed care, but they need support to address children’s trauma. Investing in quality, supported family care is a wise choice. Caregivers who are relatives save the country more than $4 billion a year, and family foster care saves millions over group or institutional care.
We need to do better, in Mississippi and nationwide. After all, children may age out of a system, but they never age out of a family.
Ms. Butts is executive director of Generations United. Ms. Boo is acting executive director of the North American Council on Adoptable Children. Ms. Clements is executive director of the National Foster Parent Association.