Finding Hope Amid Hopelessness — and Motivation to Change the Lives of Abused and Neglected Children Nationwide

kids_raising_handsWe’ve been writing all week about the stories of Oklahoma children who lost their lives when state child welfare officials failed to carry out their most basic responsibility to these kids — to watch over them carefully, and to protect them from harm.

A recent report by a national child welfare expert reviewed the cases of several kids who died in the custody of the Oklahoma child welfare system between 2007 and 2009, and found that at least five of their deaths could have been prevented. We have told the stories of four:


The fifth story, which we had planned for today, is just too grim to recount. Suffice to say that it follows the same sad, frustrating narrative: Oklahoma child welfare officials place a little girl — two-year-old N.W. – in a foster home of questionable merit. Despite one horrifying warning sign after another, caseworkers fail to step in. And before long, another young life ends under horrifying circumstances.

The collective weight of these stories — and many more that remain untold — is enough to make anyone collapse in exasperation. But that’s not the reaction we want to elicit, and hopelessness is far from the message we want to convey.

The truth is that the situation in Oklahoma — and in foster care systems across the United States — is not hopeless. It is dire. It is depressing. It is something we should regard as a national disgrace.

But it can be changed. The lives of the more than 400,000 children in American foster care right now can be transformed. They can be protected from the abuse and neglect that too many of them have suffered. They can be given the care and treatment they need to recover from the trauma of their past. They can go home to the safe, loving, permanent families that all children deserve.

They can have the healthy, happy childhood that should be every child’s right.

That is our mission. That is our goal. That is what we are making happen in a growing number of states across the country. And the stories of these children — as difficult as they are to hear — are what remind us every day of the urgency of succeeding in the nationwide campaign for child welfare reform we have undertaken.

We are grateful for all you do to stand up for the vulnerable children we represent. And we hope you will continue to stand with us as we press on.