New Federal Numbers are Out on Foster Care: Be Sure to Check Out the Ones Column

Guest Post from Jason Weber, Director of CAFO National Foster Care Initiative

Last week, I was helping one of my kids subtract large numbers for a homework assignment. At one point she made the mistake of stacking up the numbers and starting on the left side in the thousands column rather than starting on the right side in the ones column. As you know, starting in the ones column is pretty important.

Just recently, the newest AFCARS data on children in foster care was released for the 2013 fiscal year. As I looked over the data, I searched for trends and insights that will help us as we strategically labor towards a day when the church is truly providing more than enough for kids in foster care. When I did this, I went straight to the columns on the left — the hundred-thousands and ten-thousands columns. I was looking for indications of trends and glimpses into the enormity of the problem we are facing. After all, there were over 400,000 kids in foster care last year and over 100,000 of them are waiting to be adopted.

Today, I decided to look at the ones column.

There weren’t simply “over 400,000” kids in foster care last year. There were 402, 378. There are eight kids in the ones column. While you could go to your pastor and ask him to get behind the idea of speaking up for the “over 400,000” kids in foster care, what if you just went and asked him for help with the eight kids in the ones column. You see, the problem is that 400,000 is a hard number to put a name to. However, eight is not.

A cursory look at a local heart gallery website introduces us to eight children:

Derrick

Dante

Ladasha

Eric

Mallory

John

Felicia

Veronica

One church speaking up for these eight could bring the number down to 402,370. A lot of churches speaking up for eight could bring it down a whole lot more.

By all means look at the data HERE and look for trends and insights that will help you to develop strategy. However, before you do that, make sure to look at the ones column. As you know, starting in the ones column is pretty important.