The faces of Jayden. Photos taken by Caroline Donovan.
What is really going on in DSS?
The United States Department of Social Services holds control of the Foster Care and Adoption sector, their role being important in regards to a child’s state, one of the most vital needs of our country today. With the purpose and goal being the safety and well-being of a child, multiple concerning factors have arisen regarding families and the Department of Social Services.
This is no “low-scale” dilemma. Children’s Rights says “On any given day, there are nearly 428,000 children in foster care in the United States” and according to the Kids Count Data Center, 4,029 of them are in the state of South Carolina with nearly 360 being in Greenville, SC. This issue is ongoing and DSS is in need of families and homes. My research shows that the overall amount of adoptions is decreasing. We are adopting less. Adopting Families, a resource for families looking to adopt, says that adoption is at its lowest since 1982. The number of adoptions in the United States is decreasing and the number of children in Foster Care is increasing. This statistical change is not solely a number but a cry for help.
What can we do?
Some may say that this issue is rooted in the idea that the United States poorly educates citizens on the topic of fostering and adoption, though this is not the problem. Our nation makes this information readily available. Commercials air on television, journals are published and statistics are posted. The problem is not the lack of education, but lack of initiative. US citizens find themselves content with the thought that these children are someone else’s problem. They think that they either do not have the skills or the time, or that someone could do it better. This could not be farther from the truth. This social disaster engulfs us all. Excuse is crushed under the life or death need that some of these children face. The initiative needed does not just mean becoming a licensed foster or adoptive parents. This initiative means giving time, passion, and wisdom to the cause. Children need mentors, tutors, and friends. They need clothes, books, and food. Just because a home can not be provided, doesn’t mean a new quality of life is out of reach.
Part of this epidemic unfortunately lies on the shoulders of the Department of Social Services. Case Managers and Human Service Practitioners have an unreasonably heavy load, assigned to up to 40 children at a time. This requirement does not allow employees of DSS to effectively do their work, leaving children’s situations unmonitored and without the attention needed for their wellbeing.
They need us and we need them.
Orphans and vulnerable children need the system and the system needs people. The Department of Social Services, on a national and state level, is currently dealing with two great contradicting factors: the increasing influx of children and the decreasing number of families. In addition to this unbalance, issues regarding case workers and citizen assistance and innovative not being addressed or resolved, causes the overall disaster to only grow worse.