At any given time in the U.S., there are about half a million children in foster care. Many of these children are in crisis situations, and will be in foster care for only a short time, returning home or to live with a family member when the crisis has been resolved. Other children, however, remain in the system. The lucky ones will remain in one home, loved and nurtured, possibly even adopted (although for most that can take up to 4 years.) Unfortunately, most children in foster care will have to live in at least 3 different placements, and every year, 300,000 children “age out” of the system, meaning they turn 18 and no longer receive support services.
Most foster parents try their best to provide stable, loving environments for the children in their care. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. foster care system is becoming a “pipeline” for human trafficking. In an interview with NPR, Malika Saada Saar of Rights4Girls discusses this issue:
If we really look at this issue of child trafficking in America, it’s another lens through which to understand how broken our foster care system is. Many of these girls, especially, have been put into multiple placements, and many of these girls in those different placements have been abused. So one survivor leader whom we work with who was trafficked from the age of 10 to 17 – all through California, Nevada, Washington state – she talks about how, for her, foster care was the training ground to being trafficked. She understood that she was attached to a check. And what she points out is that at least the pimp told her that he loved her, and she never heard that in any of her foster care placements.