Living as a FCIT
Today I am humbled to have Greg Russinger, founding member and president of JustOne and One Voice to End Slavery, as a guest poster here at the RunaMuck. I confess that it had never crossed my mind until recently to wonder what it’s like to be a Foster Child in Transit, and I’m grateful for Greg’s perspective.
Living as a FCIT
Though I can’t recall her name, the details of her face, or the location where she lived, a small framed Mexican woman welcomed me into her home. Nerves caused a severe cotton mouth that paralyzed me to her greeting. I sat and listened as the social worker gave her my name and a small history of my situation. After my document keeper dropped of her cargo, me, this small mexican woman lead me into a bedroom filled with bunk beds, the kind you would find at some unkept summer camp cabin.
After I placed my small duffle bag on a nameless bed I got a quick tour of this foreign, unfeeling, limbo-like shelter, a liminal space between court and my next stop in the world as a foster child in transit (FCIT).
I’ve never experienced trying to sleep on a small boat in the middle of an unruly ocean, but my first night on my wooden bunk bed offered me all the imagination needed. You try to play down and mask the fear that sits on you like water, or fight to mute that sleep-stealing creaking noise bunk beds make as you try to change body position.
All this to say that my first night as a FCIT was less than desirable, but worse was that oxygen-depleting side ache that didn’t arrive from physical exercise but from the sea-pounding thoughts of waking up among unknown faces in an unknown room with an unknown amount of time before one of us might leave to board the FCIT system.
In September 2008 it was estimated that 463,000 children would wake to this unknown world, they would ride the transit system of foster care. We are on the verge of 2011.
The estimated 463,000 children in foster care on September 30, 2008, were in the following types of placements:
47 percent in non relative foster family homes
24 percent in relative foster homes
10 percent in institutions
6 percent in group homes
4 percent in pre-adoptive homes
5 percent on trial home visits (Situations in which the State retains supervision of a child and the child returns home on a trial basis, for an unspecified period of time, are considered a discharge from foster care after 6 months.)
2 percent had run away
1 percent in supervised independent living
Half of this above number experienced reunification with family, primary caregiver or relative, 24% had a goal of adoption, 8% had long term foster care, 6% had emancipation. This is statistical news and story that is worthy of celebration even though another 200,000 + new FCIT’s would emerge.
Even with the courageous help and fortitude of many many NGO’s, NPO’s, faith-based initiatives, etc kids are waking to an unfamiliar world which “could” carry long term traumatic effects played out in many unhealthy forms.
And so in February 2011 I’ll set my story inside countless others; I personally call you to gather at ICOrphans, to sit with those who are straining at the oars of invention, imagination, and innovation seeking to calm the unruly oceans of the orphan and vulnerable child world wide.
Remember, interruption is real inspiration. If you don’t know what that means, come ask me in February.