As CEO/Executive Director for Children of Diversity Foster Adoption Agency, Dr. Candice Matthews, (formerly known as Dr. Candice Enecio-Hinton) is keenly aware that minority groups are underrepresented in the nation’s foster care system. Instead of focusing on only the familial problems that lead to family separations, she strives to address the many ways that all populations, and especially minority groups, can help provide foster homes, foster child mentoring, and other supportive activities.
Minority groups are needed to nurture foster children
Dr. Matthews can point to recent government statistics that show a disproportionate number of minority children in the child welfare system that are not only children of color, but also are less likely to be reunited with their birth family, may experience multiple placements in the foster care system, and are more likely to live in group homes versus a foster home.
The evidence goes on to demonstrate that children who fail to enter healthy foster family units are more susceptible to poor educational, social, and behavioral outcomes. While these facts are an unfortunate reality, she believes that when more minority groups join in supporting the foster system, it can remove the impact of unconscious bias while also helping the child successfully navigate the experience of being a foster child from a minority group.
Ways for minority groups to help the foster system
She makes it clear that there are many examples where families of other races have successfully adopted children, and their kindness and effort does not go unrecognized. Yet, there are ways for minority families who may want to first have the experience of working with foster children, to do so.
Here are 10 ways minority groups to consider prior to becoming a foster family or considering adoption:
- Do research to learn about foster care and foster children in your community
- Provide employment for foster children that have aged out of foster care
- Be a mentor to minority youth before and after they enter foster care
- Become an advocate for change by contacting lawmakers and politicians
- Donate resources for school-aged foster children via local foster care agencies
- Organize a community support group that is willing to provide activities for foster groups
- Help foster parents by giving respite – a short period of rest or relief from caregiving
- Start a grassroots campaign to help foster parents with meals, errands, or birthday gifts
- Start a community clothes closet to help clothe local foster children
- Don’t underestimate the power of prayer that foster children find a permanent, loving home
When a member of a minority group becomes committed to just one of these helpful projects to support the foster system, it can be felt in the heart. Minority groups are keenly aware of the high rate of children in our family crisis systems. Often, it’s simply a matter of not knowing where to start, or how to contribute.
Too often, Dr. Matthews has witnessed the stigma associated with foster children that hold minority families back from helping. But, it is simply not true that all foster children are heavy-burdened with emotional and behavioral problems. Most are simply sweet, innocent children that have become a victim of unfortunate circumstance.