SPRINGFIELD, MO (11/20/17) - Let me set the scene for you. I was given a character, an 11-year-old girl whose mother is unable to help with my homework. My school calls my house, often, asking why I’m not there. After this happens several times, the school invites my mother to meetings. But she never shows. Eventually, a group of adults come to my house and tell me to pack my belongings. A number of children in Greene County go through this every day, this is just a tid bit of how I got to experience the day in the life of a foster child.
It was only a simulation, but the fear and unknowing of what was about to happen was all too real. We loaded a bus and were given one special item. A trash bag and 30 minutes to put all of our belongings in it so we can go to our new foster home.
Our first stop before we go to our new home was the Child Advocacy Center where an investigator would talk to a child that’s about to go into the foster system.
A forensic investigator, Jennifer Leek says, “It’s shocking what a child will actually come in and tell us in an interview.”
Leek says it’s tough doing what she does. In 2016, there were over 1,200 forensic interviews done on children. Once a child is in the system it’s time for the courts and judges to come into play.
Judge Hosmer told me that there are 158 foster homes in Greene County. And, almost, every child feels like what’s happening to them is their fault.
For one former foster child, he says he didn’t like it. “It was very confusing," says Andrew Jones. "At times, a lot of times, you felt like no one was in your corner.”
Children in Missouri go into foster care 64 percent of the time because of neglect, followed by physical abuse and sexual abuse.
Leek says becoming a foster parent was one of the best things that happened to her family, but like many foster children dealing with abandonment issues can be tricky.
“It’s a constant conversation as she grows we’re always going to have to explain to her that we are her forever family," says foster parent Jennifer Daniels.
Jones says kids that are in foster care aren’t alone. “Even though the most significant people deserted you, for whatever reason, there are still things out there that can be had.”
With almost 700 children in Greene County in the foster system there are ways you can make an impact; volunteer, educate, foster, and even adopt.