Foster Care in the US and Japanifcayouth
Time.com says that “In 2009, only 10% of the 37,600-plus children under 18 living in welfare institutions were adopted or taken in by foster families.” The Japan Times states, “39,000 children are in child care institutions in Japan as of 2013. Of such children, Japan placed 12% with foster parents in 2012.” It then says, “Australia manages to place 93.5 percent of children in the care of foster parents. America has 77 percent of its children in foster family care.”
That’s a pretty big contrast. And when thinking about what that equates to not in numbers but in the impacts it has on each and every youth, it’s almost insurmountable.
Lately, I have been speaking about what the biggest positive resource that I have had in my life. Without even having to think, I say the fact that I had a supportive community. And at the center of that is my foster family, my home, my support when things went bad.
Throughout my nine years in the system, I had more teachers than I can remember. I had more social workers and therapists than I would like to keep track. And although some of them truly tried to help, they can’t always be there. But even with all the inconsistency in my life, I knew I had two people in my life that were going to stay with me through all my problems and care about ME. My foster parents thought of me when we did things, or found stuff that I would enjoy doing. Even as simple as having my favorite dinner on my birthday. Without having even these simple things, I can guarantee I would not be inspired to go onto college, or to be successful. Because I needed to know that someone cared about me and not the statistics. Not the case file.
Now, let’s go back and think about those statistics. 88% of Japan youth are placed in institutions that can guarantee some basic needs like food and a place to sleep, and maybe even independent living skills. But what they can’t guarantee is the power of having one or two people that no matter what social stigmas people place on you for being a foster youth, they will be there for you as a person. They will be there to celebrate your achievements and work with you through the hard times.
The difference between America and Japan placement is 65%. That’s a long way to go. But already there was a 2% increase from 2009 to 2012. I’d like to hope that’s a sign that those youth in Japan are slowly finding homes that support and inspire them to be more than what people expect. Someone that will be there through the worst and the best.
This post is also available in: Japanese