To the point week of 5-5-11


THERE ARE SOME HEROES OUT there. They are hiding among us in plain sight, but the work that they do each and everyday not only has a positive impact on our community today; but the lasting benefits will stretch well into the future.

May is National Foster Care Month.

Now, before you turn the page, you need to know that those families out there in our community and around our state and country play a very valuable role in our future, because they open their hearts and their homes to children who need a place to stay and a family who loves them unconditionally and a place where they have a chance at a better life.

Yes, I’m sure you’ve seen terrible stories of the abuse of the foster care system, but there are abuses in every system and in every entity around us. What we cannot allow ourselves to do is to see only a few problems, and then allow those to push away from the entire situation.

There are kids who need help.

Your help.

Here are some statistics from the Indiana Department of Childrens Services concerning children in need of foster care:

– There are more than 500,000 American youth and young adults in foster care, according to a 2005 report by Casey Family Programs.

– Age of Children in Foster Care: The average age for children in foster care is 10.1 years.

Only five percent of foster children are less than one year old. One of out four foster children are between the ages of one and five, and 20-percent of kids in foster care are ages 6-10. However, nearly half of foster children (49-percent) are teens and pre-teens in search of permanency.

- Gender: Of the children if foster care nationally, 53 percent are male and 47 percent are female.

– Length of Stay (Nationally): For children in foster care on September 30th, 2004, the average foster care stay was 30 months. Twenty-nine percent of children leaving care in 2004 had been away from home for a year or longer. More than half of the young people leaving the system (53 percent) were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers.

– Foster Homes: In 2002, there were 170,000 licensed relative and non-relative foster homes nationwide. In 2004, 24-percent of youth living in out-of-home care were residing with relatives.

– Adoption: In 2004, 59-percent of adopted children received a permanent home with their foster parents, while 24-percent were adopted by a relative.

– Relative Care: More than 2 million U.S. children live with grandparents or other relatives because their parents cannot care for them. When relatives provide foster care, siblings often can stay together. Relative foster care also improves stability by allowing children to live with their families and maintain familiar community connections.

With the U.S. economy as it is, the stark, real truth is that there are children in our society who tonight have no place to be and no place to go; and their parents have no way of taking care of them.

In 2010, there were approximately 10,000 children placed in foster care in the state of Indiana. The need for quality foster homes continues to escalate here in our community.

Who Needs Foster Care? Children who either don’t have parents or can’t presently live with their parents because of various issues going on in the home require foster care.

More and more, children are being taken into foster care because of child neglect or parental drug abuse. A foster family can be a real lifeline for these kids in particular, because without that resource they become wards of the state.

Who Should Be a Foster Parent? First of all, ask yourself if you like kids. Ask yourself if you have compassion, support and wisdom to offer. Traditional foster parents need 20 hours of training with specialized foster parents required to have 30 hours of training with yearly continuing education.

Think you might want to know more about being a foster family and opening your home to a child who needs you? Contact the Switzerland County Court or the local Division of Family and Children Services office at 427-3232, and simply begin to ask some questions.

They will help you make the right decisions.


The announcement that Osama bin Laden had been located and killed caused a huge rush of patriotism throughout our country on Sunday evening.

It’s hard to comprehend what this announcement meant on a symbolic level to the families of the victims of the attacks on America on September 11th, 2001. For that horrible, historic event, Osama bin Laden became the face of terror and the face of the group responsible for those deaths.

Along with the more than 3,000 people who perished that day, there are now countless others who are suffering from terminal disease as a result of being there that day. Their lives fall on bin Laden, as well.

This isn’t a column about us tracking down and killing a guy we’ve been looking for over the past decade; but it is about the rush of Americanism that came with the announcement.

If you watched live coverage on Sunday night, you saw thousands of people rush to the White House and to “Ground Zero” and other destinations. They waved American flags and sang “The National Anthem” and chanted “USA! USA!”

For several hours, we weren’t out of work. We weren’t losing our homes to foreclosure. We weren’t worried about sending our kids to college or if the old car can make it another year.

We weren’t Republicans and we weren’t Democrats. No Liberals and no Conservatives.

We were simply Americans.

I liked that.

I always marvel at people of other nationalities who proudly proclaim their heritage. They are proud of where they came from, and they celebrate that as they also celebrate living here. Know someone who’s Irish? How about German or Polish? Japanese? It’s a long list.

It’s a long list because this country is the physical embodiment of that great “melting pot” that is a tradition of our nation. People here come from all sorts of backgrounds, but at the end of the day, we all can claim one moniker:

We are Americans.

Now, if that causes a Toby Keith song to ring through your brain, that’s okay. It’s also okay if it makes you think of Bob Hope at Christmas or our Founding Fathers or Betsy Ross or whomever.

As we celebrate, we are still mindful that the danger isn’t over, and we still have American sons and daughters who tonight will again stand in harm’s way. The death of one man doesn’t close that book; it just concludes a chapter.

As Americans, we must continue to support our troops and pray for their safety until they all come home from Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya and everyplace else around the world.

We cannot allow ourselves to believe that one death changes the world in which we operate; because “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”