Children’s Rights Launches ‘Trapped?’, An Interactive Facebook Experience That Calls Attention to Grim Realities of Foster Care

‘We All Need to Get Together to Fight for the Rights of Children and Fix the Wrongs of Foster Care,’
Says Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels
(New York) — For many American youth, the month of May means prom, final exams and counting down to high school or college graduation. But for a disturbing percentage of the nation’s 400,000-plus children in foster care, milestones like these are not at arm’s reach.

Child welfare systems in the United States routinely fail the very children who depend on them for guidance and protection, leaving them vulnerable to violations of their basic rights. To highlight the urgent need for child welfare reform, national advocacy group Children’s Rights announced the launch of Trapped? Fighting the Odds of U.S.Foster Care, an interactive experience that goes live during National Foster Care Month on the Children’s Rights Facebook page on the week of May 14, 2012.

The experience, which is modeled after a familiar framework–the Facebook timeline–juxtaposes the lives of two fictitious brothers who were removed from an abusive home and separated when they were young. Developed byRFI Studios, Trapped? lets Facebook users attempt to navigate tough life choices for one of the brothers, only to be confronted with daunting statistics. With each click, users learn about the grim state of U.S. foster care.

“Few people know that many children exit foster care far worse off than when they entered,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, founder and executive director of Children’s Rights. “Kids are bounced between homes and institutions with little regard for their physical or emotional needs. They are vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Some can’t get a consistent education. These are only a portion of the horrors that do long-term damage to our foster youth and leave many unprepared to face the world as young adults. Trapped? is a compelling means of informing a wide swath of the public about these grim realities.”

While a number of children benefit from loving and committed foster families, many others suffer in dysfunctional child welfare systems:

  • At least 25 states fail to meet the federal standard for keeping foster kids safe from abuse and neglect.
  • On average, a child will spend about 25 months in foster care, and move between different foster homes about three times. But Children’s Rights has seen many cases of children spending their entire childhoods in foster care, and bouncing between 15 placements or more.
  • Thirty five percent of foster children are prescribed psychotropic medication, compared with only 10 percent of children not in state care, according to a five-state study.
  • Thanks to the inherent instability in their lives, only 30.7 percent of foster youth receive their high school diploma and just 2.5 percent from a four-year college. As many as 31 percent of those who “age out” of foster care spend time homeless or couch surfing.

“Foster kids can go through hell, but it’s preventable,” said Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, a founding member of the iconic rap group Run-DMC and a member of the Children’s Rights Board of Directors. McDaniels, who was adopted as an infant, added, “We all need to get together to fight for the rights of children and fix the wrongs of foster care. We need to make sure every kid has a chance, like I did.”

Since 1995, Children’s Rights has launched legal challenges in at least 15 states and jurisdictions seeking improvements in child welfare systems. Through landmark legal victories and rigorous policy advocacy, the national non-profit is transforming dangerous child welfare systems throughout the country in states like Tennessee, New Jersey and, most recently, Oklahoma.