Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

June 13, 2011

Foster care is important for neglected children

Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Father’s Day is upon us; and while many sons and daughters are struggling to figure out what necktie or gift certificate to give, thousands of children in the foster care system have no father to recognize.

Many of them have never met their fathers.  These absentee fathers abandoned their families before their offspring were born or shortly after.  Some are in prison or are dead.

For those who have had contact with fathers, they were more likely to get slapped than hugged.  Their dads taught them how to throw a punch instead of throw a ball.  They learned that hitting mothers is an acceptable way to deal with conflict and that children are good for kicking when frustrated.  They showed them that drugs and alcohol numb you to the challenges life throws your way.

Increasing numbers of children are entering the Texas foster care system—more than 43,000 last year—children whose families failed to care for them, feed them, and protect them from harm.  These children, especially boys, need strong adult male role models to prepare them to make their way in the world.

Instead of talking about how messed up today’s young people are, consider doing something to set them on the right path.

I challenge you to make a promise this Father’s Day:  Quit complaining and take action to help at least one child this year.  There is always a need for foster parents; and with more than 6,000 children on the waiting list for adoption, there’s a need for adoptive dads.

As a Court Appointed Special Advocate, a CASA volunteer, assigned by the court to speak up for abused or neglected children, I’ve seen firsthand the difference that can be made by someone who really cares about a child’s well-being.  The reward for me is knowing that the child I’m advocating for goes to sleep tonight in a place that is clean and safe and that physical, emotional, and educational needs are met.  We help a child, who through no fault of his own ends up in foster care, by offering solutions and helping judges make informed decisions about what is right for a child.

If you accept my challenge, your involvement will be the best Father’s Day gift you can give to a child…and to yourself.

Edna Haberle,

CASA of Trinity Valley/Cherokee County