At any given time there are hundreds of children in El Paso County who must be removed from their homes for their own safety. In these moments, there are foster parents who selflessly step up to take them in. They answer the phone at 2 a.m., put on a pot of coffee and prepare to welcome these scared kids and teens. Many of these parents agree to take large sibling groups to keep them together, or children with complex medical or emotional needs.
This is the start of an incredibly demanding journey for both parents and kids. For the foster parent, it can be isolating, emotionally draining, and physically exhausting to care for children with such complex needs. There are court-ordered parental visits, therapy appointments, and typically behavioral or emotional challenges. For the children, the effects of trauma make even routine tasks and responsibilities difficult to manage.
Without help, these foster parents often burn out. The kids grow up and too often become chronically homeless, unemployed or underemployed, or they engage in criminal behavior.
The cost of inaction
With such an uneven playing field, it should come as no surprise that about half of all foster children will end up homeless within two years of “aging out.” And that’s just the beginning. Consider this:
- A third of chronically homeless adults are former foster children
- Half of the entire prison population grew up in foster care
- Young women from foster care are five times more likely to become pregnant compared to their peers.
Behind each of these lives is a staggering price tag of $45,000 to $125,000 per year in social services, not accounting for associated healthcare costs, chronic unemployment, and other factors that would drive these numbers far higher. Tragically, it’s too often a story that repeats itself for generations.
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, there is reason for optimism and hope. With the right love and support, combined with trauma-informed training, children can not only recover from trauma, but can thrive. With help from a team, foster parents are willing to continue stepping up to provide safety and support for kids with nowhere else to go.
Learn how we are changing the statistics.