Having worked in the media for some time I am well aware of the saying that ‘any media is good media’.
This applies to everything except foster care.
In my experience any press around foster care has people running for the hills.
There will be a nation outraged in response to the Four Corners expose on the residential care (or lack thereof) of our most vulnerable children.
Children, often between the ages of 11-18 are placed in large homes, manned by workers. They are told that they are there because nobody wants them.
I’m not sure if the Four Corners’ journalist misspoke when he stated that the problem was in finding a “home for children that anyone would find difficult for”. Having cared for many of these so called ‘difficult children’, I take great offense to this reference.
These young people are not problems to be solved but people worthy of being met. Such brazen statements give them next to no hope of someone stepping up to take care of them.
Having had 32 foster children and a 20 year career of working in child protection and young people in crisis, none of what was aired on Four Corners is a shock to me.
Yes, people are taking advantage of vulnerable children by profiting, enormously, from pretending to provide them care. Yes, kids often experience worse abuse in care than they did in the homes they were taken from. Yes, government departments and agencies are well aware of these atrocities and do little to address these situations and yes, we as a society are the greatest culprits.
Whilst we reel at what we have seen and sob in despair at the treatment of children in our own backyard, how many of us have opened our doors? How many of you have explored what you can do to break the cycle of loneliness these children face every day?
In my experience, any issue affecting the foster care situation has the same solution. Until we have enough decent foster care alternatives, children will continue to face abuse, either in the homes that we can’t remove them from because we have nowhere to place them or… they face further abuse within our system of, so called, protection.
If you are outraged by last night’s Four Corners, I need to ask you….“Is your door open?”
Yes, the treatment of these children is appalling. On any given night, in any state there are more than 250 children in hotel rooms, caravan parks and holiday units in emergency or what is called commercial care.
This is not just a departmental problem. This is a societal problem! Every night we stare at the television, gutted by the helplessness we all feel about the plethora of issues we see globally that we can do nothing to change. This is an issue that we can do something about.
The only way to alleviate the many countless problems with foster care is to have loving homes to send these children to.
It takes a village to raise a child and we need to be the village.