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As our eyes and hearts are drawn to the plight of the ~2000 immigrant children separated from their parents, we are continuing to fail our missing and abused foster children. It isn’t newsworthy if we aren’t able to take a pot shot at Trump or his cronies. The public cares more about #WhereIsMelania, who is living the high life in her gold encrusted penthouse, than they do about the safety and well being of THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of foster children in their own backyard.
As the reality show unfolds sans an appearance by Kim Kardashian, I ask you this: WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE FOR OUR FOSTER CHILDREN?
Since 2000, Social Service agencies throughout the US have CLOSED the cases of over 110 THOUSAND MISSING foster children without locating them.
EVERY year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, APPROXIMATELY 1 percent of all children in foster care go missing. There are no hard numbers as the actual missing children are not being properly recorded.
In 2013, 4020 Foster Children went MISSING.
In 2014, 4150 Foster Children went MISSING.
In 2015, 4200 Foster Children went MISSING.
In 2016, 4300 Foster Children went MISSING.
In 2017, 4600 Foster Children went MISSING…
In Texas (a sex trafficking hub), 973 children ran away from foster care in 2016. ONE-THIRD of those kids — 340 vulnerable CHILDREN — have completely disappeared. Sex trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world. Sixty percent of child sex trafficking victims have been or are foster children. Yet we are not asking Texas: #WhereAREtheChildren?
If a school lost ONE child every week, the heads of teachers and principles would roll. Child welfare LOSES ~88 foster children EVERY week. Very few of their faces make it onto a missing child poster. As I write this, there are 70 foster children missing from the Kansas Department for Children and Families. Kansas DHS has stated that they are actively looking for these children. I searched the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) website; there are only 44 missing posters listed under Kansas (2016 - 2018). Of those 44 missing child posters, we have no way of knowing if ANY are foster children. #WhereAREtheChildren and where is the outrage and demand for the prosecution of the caseworkers who are not following the law enacted in 2014? The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, P.L. 113-183 (H.R. 4980) requires every state to report EVERY missing or abducted foster child to law enforcement AND to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Where are the tweets for a father who could not get his own missing daughter’s face placed on the NCMEC without the authorization of her caseworker? He called his MISSING daughter’s caseworker every day for three weeks until she finally got around to reporting his little girl to the NCMEC.
#FamiliesBelongTogether… yes they do. All families belong together. While the immigrant children are sleeping on beds, foster children continue sleeping on office floors due to the lack of foster homes. These children go into the system traumatized after being taken from their parents, who may or may not be abusive. There are hundreds of foster children who are placed out of state due to a shortage of foster homes; how do those children maintain contact with their parents? Not Trump’s fault = nobody cares.
The parents: while awaiting a hearing to determine their fitness, there are thousands of parents and family members who don’t know where their children are. They don’t know if they have been placed out of state. They don’t know if their children are sleeping on an office floor or in an actual foster home.
Where was #KeepFamiliesTogether when a father had to wait nine months for reunification counseling to begin even though the judge ordered the caseworker to set up the sessions WITHIN 30 days? The father and his attorney called her caseworker daily. During those nine months his previously non-truant daughter missed 70 days of school. What did she do all day? Where were her foster parents? There was one adult on duty in her group home while she spent the day… 70 days in her room.
Nobody asked where a missing 15-year-old foster child named Stacy Duke was when she ran away her group home. The group home she ran from didn’t ask or report her missing. Stacy was only a few days shy of her 16th birthday when she was found strangled in a garage.
And what about fourteen-year-old Grace Packer, who was found naked and dismembered after being raped and brutally beaten by her foster-turned-adoptive mother and her boyfriend?
Grace was only three-year-olds when she was placed in the foster home of Sara and David Packer. Sara Packer was an adoptions supervisor with the Northampton County Children, Youth and Families Division (CCY) at the time of the placement. Between 2004 and 2010, multiple people reported that Grace was being abused by the Packers to CCY. One of the reports was made by a former foster child of the Packers' who witnessed the abuse at the hands of both foster parents. Amid the unresolved reports of abuse, the Packers were allowed to adopt Grace and fostered 30 children over the course of a decade.
In 2010, David Packer was charged with molestation and rape. He pled guilty to indecent assault and statutory rape. The victims; a three-year-old, nine-year-old Grace, and a 15-year-old special needs child.
We knew where Grace was for most of her life; when we didn’t know, nobody was asking… posting #WhereAreTheGirls.
Where is the outrage for the 16-year-old girl who was being trafficked by her group home? Her father kept in daily contact with her through Facebook Messenger… One day she stopped responding. In looking through her photos he noticed what looked like a motel room door. He began searching ads online fearing that she was being trafficked. He found her on Craigslist with a false name and her age listed as nineteen. He immediately contacted her caseworker and provided a screenshot of the dated Craigslist ad. The caseworker told him that his daughter was in a group home and it simply was not possible for her to be trafficked. I contacted the head of a sex trafficking unit in Texas (he is in Ohio) who told me to have him contact his local police department. He did (several times) and they did nothing.
June 18, 2018: A respite foster carer was arrested for videotaping and raping an eight-year-old foster child in his care. Where is her hashtag? THOUSANDS of foster children have (and are) been trafficked and sexually/physically/emotionally abused in foster homes. Where are their hashtags? While it is traumatic for immigrant children to be separated from their parents, the comparison to concentration camps is a violent and disrespectful slap in the face to all of the victims of actual concentration camps. NONE of these children are going to be gassed. They are not going to have medical experiments performed on them. They will not starve or succumb to a disease due to their living conditions. Their family members are NOT going to be killed for being immigrants. In the time that it takes to process their parents they will undoubtedly experience the trauma of uncertainty and separation; they will not experience anything that should allow ANYONE to liken them to the victims of the Holocaust.
#ZeroTolerance doesn’t exist for foster children lost and/or abused by a very broken foster care system. Thousands of children lost every year don’t seem to have enough value to be assigned a hashtag or our protection. As foster homes collect checks for missing foster children and caseworkers are falsifying reports, we pretend not to notice. Why? Because we can’t point a finger at anyone but ourselves. We are failing these children. Maybe one day we will begin to take action and at least tweet #AllChildrenMatter.
What You Can Do to Help OUR Foster Children
'Missing: a True Story of a Childhood LOST'
Once upon a time I was a missing child, a child of the streets. I began running away at the age of five after my mother dropped me out of a two-story window. Two broken arms later I was sent to live with my grandparents... the creators of my mother. I spent the rest of my childhood running, for the last time at the tender age of 13 - this time for good.
Missing: A True Story of a Childhood Lost is a story of a young girl's survival, a woman's surthrival. It is a story of suffering, of rising up against all odds, and discovering an appreciation of life.
"I decided that I was going through this hell as a kind of pre-payment for a good life. From a very young age, I always knew that better days lay ahead. Now I had an explanation as to why: I was paying up front. I decided that I was destined for greatness and I just had to power through."
Follow Marnie through her journey from stolen childhood to an empowered woman as she details firsthand the power of the human spirit to heal and love.