Foster care reform needed

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Today is National Foster Care Day. On the first Tuesday in May people are encouraged to wear blue and show their support for foster youth.

The day kicks off a month-long recognition of the need for reform in a system that has long been broken nationwide. The system in plagued with shortages. Many children enter care with little to no belongings. In a situation that is supposed to be safe, many foster children have suffered abuse, poverty, neglect and even death. There is a nationwide shortage of foster parents and stipends that don’t cover the essentials of a growing child.

The need for better support services, resources for providing essentials to these children and qualified, loving foster homes is great. There are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system at any given time, and a new child placed into care every two minutes, so the need is constantly growing.

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Children in foster care have great obstacles and statistics to overcome. Without the support of our communities and our elected leaders, the odds will continue to be against them.

An overhaul of this system is long overdue, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin in dedicated to doing that in the Commonwealth, largely in part to his own family’s experiences with the foster care system.

A story recently published by ABC News focuses on the Bevins’ story.

Bevin and his wife, Glenna, are parents to nine children, including four they adopted from Ethiopia after a failed attempt to adopt a little girl in Kentucky’s foster care system.

“The little girl was 11, living in a foster care group home, when she ended up playing tag in a Louisville park with the daughters of a wealthy investment manager who would one day be Kentucky’s governor,” ABC News reported.

The Bevins “noticed how the girl attached herself to their daughters, ‘like she was just one of the kids.’

“Moved by her situation, the Bevins started the process of trying to adopt her from Kentucky’s child-welfare system. They had their fingerprints taken, took parenting classes, had their fingerprints taken again, opened their home to an inspection, and were fingerprinted a third time.

“The state ultimately rejected their application because, the Bevins said, they had five children and officials worried the girl wouldn’t get enough attention. So the Bevins ‘gave up’ and went to Ethiopia to adopt four children, a process they called simpler and cheaper.”

Bevin told ABC News he wants to overhaul the state’s troubled child-welfare system because of this experience — something he started in 2016 by offering a small raise for state social workers.

Bevin has made good on promises he made to reform other troubled systems in our state. He led the Commonwealth to several steps in huge justice reform this year and we hope he can make similar positive changes for Kentucky’s foster youth.