It’s been in the news almost daily, for months; the critical need to overhaul our state’s child welfare system is at a tipping point. Child deaths and near deaths are at an all-time high. Recently, at a public forum one high-profile speaker mentioned that nothing will change until there is enough public will to change it.
The child welfare system is competing with so many other “pressing needs” in the state like unsafe school buildings, businesses closing their doors, that amassing the public will to demand change is, at best, an uphill battle.
I know there are people in Rhode Island who make up the “public” side of things, who are appalled and shocked on a daily basis by news reports of children who, through no fault of their own, live their lives in harm’s way. Some of them have even asked me, “but what can I do?” I could give them a stock answer like: Write a letter to the editor of the Providence Journal or other local newspaper; OR, call and write and visit with your local legislators to demand action. But of late my answer has been this:
If you want to become a bigger and more important part of the solution: become a foster parent! Provide a safe, stable place where children who are taken into custody by DCYF, can be placed and cared for. It’s a big ask, I know! You will get support from some great organizations, like Children’s Friend, to be able to care for the children who might be placed with you. But more importantly, establishing and supporting more high quality foster homes will indeed create the public will necessary to change the system—and, ultimately keep kids from dying.