Last year there were 8,967 substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect in Iowa. The cost to taxpayers of our child welfare system was about $230 million. Many of the children reported as abused or neglected were designated as “child in need of assistance” and removed from their homes, putting them and their families into the court system. Almost half of them were 5 years old or younger.
These children, who have already faced untold trauma, enter a circumstance that confuses and frightens them, one they don’t understand, and one that’s full of well-meaning people they don’t know. In spite of what they’ve suffered, most of them just want to go home. But we, as citizens, want them to be safe, loved, and happy. And we don’t want them to be invisible, because they are our future.
When we read the occasional horror story of a child in foster or adoptive care being seriously harmed, our first reaction is to ask, “How can this happen?” Our second reaction might be to ask, “What can I do?”