Moving the Conversation

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This one caught my eye.

Because every child deserves a good home — no matter what that home looks like.

And we have the responsibility to make sure that homes are safe places for kids.

A member of the Hope team sent me a link. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee, have sent a letter to all 50 governors seeking

  • the names of all private foster care providers
  • state inspection and accreditation practices
  • financial information
  • child abuse rates

The Senate interest prompting these letters started with a news organization’s investigation into cases of violent deaths and sex abuse at homes run by National Mentor Holdings, the nation’s biggest for-profit foster care company. The reports examined how a National Mentor foster father molested his foster sons for over a decade while the company was supposed to be monitoring him. In another case, a National Mentor foster mother murdered her 2-year-old foster daughter.

But foster care is not the problem. The stories could have been about adoptive families or kids in residential programs. Or biological families.

Sometimes they all fail. Sometimes horribly. Far, far too often.

We all know that the very best place for children is in a safe, supportive environment with their biological parents. That is the way the family was designed from the beginning—and where children have the best chance to thrive.

But sometimes those families fail; parents are not ready to be parents, or—for whatever reason—make choices that make the home a no-longer-safe place for a child. Sometimes death interrupts life, and the child no longer has family.

So then what happens to the child?

Adoption, hopefully, or really good foster care. Or, for some children, a residential program that becomes family by any measure of the word. But the important thing is not what the care looks like; the important factor is the quality of the care.

Unfortunately, we often want to focus on the type of care a child is receiving, rather than the quality. More and more studies are showing that—for children whose biological families have been interrupted—it is how well care is done, not the type of care that makes the difference.

There is plenty of bad out there. What is happening today in our country—and around the world—is a tragedy. Kids should be loved and protected no matter where they grow up. Instead of debating the relative merits of foster, adoptive, or residential care, let’s make sure that, wherever children are, they are valued, treasured.

Let’s make sure they have the chance to thrive.

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