Approximately 1 child out of every 150 is in kinship care or foster care, which means that by the time your child is 10, they likely will have encountered at least one child in foster care in their school or recreational activities.
As a children’s book author, I am frequently in front of young audiences. I typically speak to 200 or 300 children at a time. Statistically, it is likely that there is a child in foster care in each audience, yet most of the students present have never even heard of foster care, much less have an understanding of how it might impact one of their peers. I know this to be true because I’ve asked them.
My novel for middle-grade readers, “All the Impossible Things,” is about an 11-year-old girl in foster care who accidentally causes tornadoes when she’s upset. During my presentation, I always ask the children if they know what foster care is. Usually, less than half of the audience raises their hand to answer, and their response is almost always framed negatively. Once, a boy replied, “Foster care is when your parents don’t want you anymore, so you live with strangers.”
This boy’s statement struck me, not because he was speaking from experience— he was not — but because he was so confident he understood what foster care meant. What story had he heard about foster care that shaped his beliefs?
Talking to Your Children about Foster Kids: