Over 20 years ago I realized that nearly all of the issues that we face in society can step back to a child entering adulthood without significant healthy relationships with people who can love and mentor them. You've heard me quote the statistics of what happens when kids age out of foster care for a really long time.
Let me share some with you:
1) Twenty percent of youth who were in foster care will become instantly homeless upon aging out.
2) There is less than a 3% chance of a child who ages out of foster care achieving higher education.
3) Only one out of every two older youth will have employment by the age of twenty-four.
4) Twenty-five percent of older youth who age out of foster care are affected by PTSD.
5) Seven out of ten girls who age out will become pregnant before the age of twenty-one.
There are other statistics out there — statistics about incarceration and sex trafficking, for example. And they are all a direct result of kids entering adulthood without the support they need.
You will hear more and more about a regional initiative that we are spearheading at my work over the next several years. It involves insuring that the number of kids enter adulthood without positive relationships will get smaller and smaller in our area.
It’s a cool initiative …. it involves government, private agencies, and the church working together. Each month we have something we call “The Gathering” in Lynchburg (you’re welcome to come). We invite people from agencies and churches to come talk about how we can work together to make sure that kids are safe, families are strong, and the church community is faithfully supporting them.
Last month we had our meeting and there was only one person representing a church in the room. The private agencies were there having been told that this was a collaboration…. and they showed up. But one of them commented that this happens frequently — they head to meetings saying that the church is involved, but nobody shows up.
“Where is the Church?” he asked.
And so I ask you the same question.
Where is the Church?