Rod Gordon, director of the Essex County Social Services Department spoke at the Thursday, February 27th weekly meeting on the challenges and success of children's foster care.
As Rod so eloquently put it, “Our Children are our community’s children” Children as Rod put it who wish every day for a ‘forever’ family. A child enters the foster care system when the child is threatened by living at home. Such maltreatment can be sexual abuse, parental neglect or mental abuse.
If said child can be removed from the abuse or neglect to a home of ‘Kinship care’…that being grandparents, other family members, or the like, that option is always at the top of the list. Rod share that the number of kids in foster care nationally has dropped from 463,000 in 2009 to 390,000 in 2112 but even one child is too many. There are currently 5 foster families in Essex County.
It takes a special person to be a foster parent. There are 7 children in foster care currently in Essex County. Twenty-two children are in foster care prevention and this is all handled by 3 case workers and 1 supervisor. The national age of a foster child is 9.1 but in Essex County it is 16. Fifty-seven percent of these local children are male. Time spent in foster care nationally is 20 months. In Virginia it is 18 months but in Essex it is 37 months.
Rod also addressed the cost to the state and county for providing for a foster child. A teenage child will merit $666 a month and $300 a year for clothing. They also receive Medicaid and free school lunches but as you can imagine that does not take care of the costs to help raise a child. Again says Rod, it takes a very special person to be a foster parent.