Foster Care Is An International Issue

May 12, 2014 | Updated Jul 09, 2014

Foster care is not a problem found solely in the United States, it is a global issue. There are millions of children in foster care around the world; they are children left without adequate resources and strong support systems, which, in turn, does not allow these youth to reach their fullest potential.

According to STV, "Almost 63,000 children are living with more than 52,500 foster families across the UK". The executive director of the Child Welfare League of Canada, Peter Dudding, estimates between 76,000 and 85,000 kids are in foster care in Canada. In 2008, data from the South Africa Social Security Agency showed that close to half a million children were in formal, court-ordered foster care. In Australia, in 2012, there were 39, 621 children living in out-of-home care. A decade ago, there were 568,000 children in the United States living in foster care. For the past few years the United States has been working diligently to reduce the number of youth in foster care and improve the foster care system, with some success.

According to the Children's Bureau, "On September 30, 2012, there were an estimated 399,546 children in foster care." The numbers are decreasing but the fact remains that these children in foster care are not simply numbers; they are young minds molding and growing in connection with their environment. One important point to note is that children in foster care typically fare worse than children in the general population. 3-11% of former foster children complete a bachelor's degree in comparison with 28% of the general public. Foster children are also less likely to graduate high school, they experience more school changes and are more likely to become homeless, unemployed or go to jail within one year of turning 19.

In the United States, Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu is a strong advocate for adoption and foster care in the legislature. She has also held International Foster Care conversations and was the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Foster Youth. "Children may make up only about 30 percent of the world's population, but they represent 100 percent of our future," said Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. "Many children around the world are living on the streets or in institutions instead of with a family, and many suffer from abuse or exploitation. It is critical that U.S. investments abroad successfully provide vulnerable children with opportunities to reach their full potential for a brighter and more secure future."

Unfortunately, political pandering between Russia and the United States has led to increased turmoil in the realm of child welfare. Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin signed a bill preventing United States families from adopting Russian children. The bill affected not only United States families who hoped to adopt from Russia but also the children in Russia who are still without a family and a place to call home. In January of 2013, when the bill first came into effect, Senator Landrieu wrote letters to President Obama and President Putin urging them to allow the adoptions of Russian children already in process to be completed.

Foster Skills, a social enterprise dedicated to innovating the foster care system, has plans to work with HROOM, a social enterprise in Russia. The plan is to allow Russian orphans to communicate with orphans in America. By cultivating talks between international orphans, these organizations will be allowing these children to connect to each other regardless of their location and thus fostering international relationships that are meaningful. International partnerships like this are vital to spreading awareness of the issues of foster care and adoption on a global scale.