Our youth of today look at the educational system and ask, “Why?” They look at the values of their parents and say, “That’s not for me!” They laugh at the political machinery, see how environmental and social concerns are few, and say, “Nothing is working.” They live with hopelessness in a love-starved world and feel, “What’s the use?” So begins the life of abuse in all its ugly forms.
Warehousing of youths within the social systems, which happens today whether intended or not, only continues this disempowerment.
They take it out on themselves without knowing what they are doing or why, causing social issues of near epidemic proportions in our burgeoning cities and an overload for our courts, educational institutions, social service systems, and treatment facilities. Rural areas are experiencing a growing problem as well. Can we find collective answers and implement solutions?
I was adopted as an infant, grew up in a near-perfect family environment that taught me unconditional love, morals, values, and ethics for living and working in this world. Growing up I thought everyone was like me, naïve to the challenges others less fortunate faced in the foster care system and sometimes even in biological family units as well. My heart ached often as I grew to maturity and still does as an adult in near-geriatrically gifted realms.
Divorced before I could see my kids grow up; I wanted to keep up with their age group. I got an opportunity to teach high school; a long term substitute position at a 51% Hispanic high school in Phoenix led to teaching ‘special ed’ for a time, invited by a friend that was the AP of Discipline at the time, and ran an anger management group for the detention-prone and misfits. I broke up fights, was threatened, and wasn’t allowed to continue the anger management group at a second school, where I taught self-contained special ed or ‘exceptional students,’ because of lawyer shenanigans.
That was around the turn of the century and I eventually wrote a business plan for a model school/village that still makes complete sense (and dollars, too) but is so far beyond the current system’s capacity to implement that it never garnered enough attention for implementation, though my first presentation was to the head of education for AZ Child Protective Services. I went on with my life in other areas for a couple of decades.
Early on in the Covidoscopy, we’ve been getting, I learned that over 70% of youth aging out of foster care in Arizona become homeless, incarcerated, sex trafficked, or chronically jobless. The numbers are similar across the country. It’s unacceptable. How can we possibly expect to have a better world when our children are still at risk? What are the available channels of opportunity and what needs to be created in addition to them?
Before this horrific news hit my screen, I’d prayed for a way to get involved with community service; a shift in my life that, although full, wasn’t fulfilling yet. Within a month and through a series of serendipitous events, I became co-founder of WeCanDoBetterArizona.org and in a position to make a huge difference for kids in Arizona through a simple educational and engaging process of a simple shift in how people pay their state income taxes.
Arizona has tax credits that allow people to contribute to qualified charitable organizations. Some other states do as well. Arizona has two types (among the five categories), Qualified Charitable Organizations (QCO) and Qualified Foster Care Charitable Organizations (QFCO). Less than 5% participated in QCO tax credits in 2018 and less than 1% in QFCO, which still amounted to $25 million.
We know things are awry, but don’t necessarily know what is available to change the trends.
Perhaps folks in those states without tax credits can put pressure on their legislators to create them. It’s really kind of a no-brainer when you understand the mechanisms and that organizations already exist in the effort to help. They’re just strapped with the inability to scale and the constant fund-raising efforts. Single donation contributors have less than a 40% retention while monthly giving plans are over 90% retentive.
I’m just one in a sea of possibilities to energize the ocean of emotion toward safe harbor. We need collaborators, stalwart leadership in our communities to change the progression of the status quo and put our children at a top priority… people over profit. I pray that 2021 will offer a better reflection of restoring human dignity and purpose. Dennis has been building toward that end and our connection is replete with such purpose.
How about you, the reader? Are you willing to stand? People hold the power, not the politicians, and certainly not the soulless corporations we have today. Time for a change, isn’t it?