President Donald Trump signed an executive order seeking to strengthen the nation’s foster care system which calls on states and cities to work with faith-based and other charities at a time when organizations that uphold traditional views of marriage are facing increasing hostility from Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning groups.
Trump’s order signed Wednesday highlights several areas of concern where the president is calling for more research and improvement by federal and state agencies, such as the need to bolster “robust partnerships” between community organizations, improve access to resources for caregivers, and improve federal oversight on welfare requirements.
Although the number of children in foster care in the U.S. has declined in recent years, there are still more than 430,000 children in foster care nationwide and over 124,000 eligible for adoption. The president stressed that “too many” children in the foster care system have to wait years before finding a permanent family.
“In recent years, approximately 20,000 young people have aged out of foster care each year in the United States,” the order states. “Research has shown that young people who age out of the foster care system are likely to experience significant, and significantly increased, life challenges.”
According to the order, 40% of people who age out of foster care experience homelessness and 50% are unemployed by the age of 24. The president called these “unacceptable outcomes.”
“Several factors have contributed to the number of children who wait in foster care for extended periods. First, state and local child welfare agencies often do not have robust partnerships with private community organizations, including faith-based organizations,” the order stressed. “Second, those who step up to be resource families for children in foster care — including kin, guardians, foster parents, and adoptive parents — may lack adequate support.”
A third reason, the order adds, is that the “processes and systems meant to help children and families in crisis have instead created bureaucratic barriers that make it more difficult for these children and families to get the help they need.”