Solving the 72 Hour Problem—Filling Foster Care with Hope
Today’s guest post is by my friend and former colleague, Ray Deck III. He’s an electric and dynamic personality, and one of the few people in my life I’d call an ideapreneur (all the creativity and drive of an entrepreneur—just without the money).
I remember taking a walk with him one afternoon while he laid out this idea germinating in his heart, which has grown into Skookum Kids. I’m excited to see it coming to fruition and to give Ray an opportunity to share it with you.
Before I do, however, I want to encourage all of you to have the Ray’s tenacity to recognize a problem, consider a solution, and doggedly pursue it to completion. It’s these kinds of works which make the world a better place to inhabit.
Confronting the foster care crisis
We have an orphan crisis.
I don’t mean in far away places.
I mean right here, we have an orphan crisis.
In my home of Washington State, there are currently 9,326 children in foster care with more entering care every day. That’s a crisis if I ever heard one.
And these kids are wounded, not just by the event that sent them into care, but by the foster system itself. Foster children display symptoms of PTSD at twice the rate as soldiers returning from overseas combat.
The time has come for some thoughtful, sustainable solution to this problem.
The 72 Hour Problem
One of the things that makes foster care so traumatic is a service gap that I call, “the 72 hour problem.”
When children enter foster care, social workers have 72 hours—3 working days—before they must appear before a judge with a plan about where the children will live. Where do the children go in the interim? There’s currently no plan.
Sometimes social workers place them in an already over-capacity foster home.
Sometimes the children are transported to the other side of the state.
Sometimes they sit in the hallway outside the social worker’s office while they work.
So just hours removed from trauma, these children are in a very vulnerable emotional state, and the foster care system has no plan for them.
It’s a huge service gap.
And I want to close it.
I’m working with a team of people to create a receiving care facility that would look after children in their first 3 days of foster care. We’re calling ourselves Skookum Kids (cool name, right?).
When kids enter foster care, rather than scrambling to buy time by piecing together imperfect solutions, social workers will just call us. Under the care of Skookum Kids children will receive new clothes, new toys, nutritious meals, transportation to a medical check-up, and probably most importantly, a safe place to rest and relax under the watchful care of trained volunteers.
With this approach, everybody wins.
If we reduce the trauma a child experiences in their first 3 days, we can set them quickly on the road to recovery.
If we give social workers the time they need to review find the right home, we can keep sibling groups together.
If we give potential foster parents more information about the children they are accepting, we can reduce the number of placement failures.
God cares about orphans
It’s clear from verses like Deuteronomy 10:18, Psalm 68:5, Isaiah 1:17, God has a soft spot in his heart for orphans. They are a priority to him. And the power of God is always applied to the priorities of God.
God is eager to work through his people to care for those 9,326 children. Everywhere I look, I see groups of believers rising up to care for foster kids in different ways. And the best news of all . . .
You can help!
Skookum Kids is brand new. That means we have lots to do and we need lots of help. If, like me, you’ve long wanted to be involved in foster care but haven’t know how–here’s your chance.
There are 2 primary ways that you can help Skookum Kids in its mission to care for foster children.
Based on the operating costs of other similar facilities, we estimate it will cost $100 for every child who spends a night in the care of Skookum Kids. The state of Washington only pays $30 per child per night. So the race is on now for us to raise the difference.
We’ve got a crowdfunding campaign up with lots of great perks available to our earliest supporters.
If you live in Washington State and you’ve ever though about becoming a foster parent, but hesitated because of all the red tape, consider becoming a Skookum Kids volunteer.
The training process is much faster and less invasive. And you can give anywhere from 2 to 24 hours a week based on your own availability.
There are a lot of people out there who would also love to be involved if only they were aware of what we are doing. Help us spread the word so that everyone who wants to be involved has that chance.
For convenience, you can use the links below.
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Thanks in advance! I can’t wait to see what we build together.