By Ron Bertsch
Previously published April 2015
It’s like standing downstream and watching hundreds of children falling off the cliff into the raging river! As they rush by, we try to pull one out with a small branch, if a child just happens to grab hold. This is the best analogy that I can use to describe what I experience at DCCH with our community’s child abuse problem. March and April have set record numbers for children referred for foster care placement.
Most of my 29 year career, up until about three years ago, the need was great with an average of 30 or so children referred each month. That equates to one child a day. The numbers started rising in 2013, and I started getting 40, 50, then 60, 70 and 80 by the end of year. That was almost tripling the number of children needing a home. In 2014, again the numbers kept rising. We broke the 100 mark, averaging for the year 134 children a month. The numbers have not declined in 2015. March saw 246 children and when writing this column, April was trending to break nearly 300 children being referred!
Can we recruit, train and support enough families to serve ten children a day? NO WAY! The kids are drowning in the analogy. The drug abuse issues of their parents, the domestic violence they witness and suffer themselves is unbelievable. Will it ever stop or subside?
While April was publicized as child abuse prevention month and many people and agencies have tried and continue their efforts to stop and reduce child maltreatment, the problem continues. DCCH is part of the efforts to help prevent some of this tragedy. We offer outpatient therapy services to parents and children. In our residential and foster care and adoption programs, we provide a safe haven for the children while the parents seek treatment. We pray that all the children can successfully return home.
Although catching only a fraction of the children flowing into foster care, the ones we do serve are thriving! We are seeing wonderful results with the few children we can serve, one at a time. It is heart wrenching that more are not able to be helped. We owe so much to the wonderful staff and families who have committed themselves to training and scrutiny to be approved as foster or adoptive parents. We just need more of you!
John and Chrissy, a couple who came to us with no children biologically, are a family of six now. They fostered first and then adopted their now15 year daughter back in August 2013. They contacted us again in 2015, and are fostering three little boys all under the age of five. Their birth parents are incarcerated and failed to succeed and stay in drug rehab after numerous attempts. The court just changed the goal to adoption after intense work with the parents who could not seem to kick the addiction to heroin. The kids are doing well though and have found stability and a forever home through DCCH.
One recent teen, who was adopted through our program a few years ago, emailed his past social worker and told us that he is graduating high school this spring and has plans to attend NKU in the fall. To know him then, many wondered if this was possible. Eight more children already finalized adoption in 2015. That is a number and story that we are proud and happy to report.
We ask for your continued prayers for DCCH as we try to prevent more children from entering foster care and certainly to help us pull more to safety in a good home. We encourage anyone interested in learning more about DCCH, or ways you can help us pull the next child from the river, please come see us.