The unspoken crisis: child orphans neglected and thrown in prisons for housing

Dylan Schor, Staff Writer

According to The Oregonian, there is currently a problem regarding orphans. A move to improve the care for foster children has resulted in twenty-five percent more children being separated from their families and being housed in former juvenile jails. Under the current system, there is a mass shortage of foster care leaving children neglected and being placed in prison; there is simply nowhere else to put them.

“I mean — is this really a question? We have to find the resources to make sure this doesn’t happen. What is wrong with this country? Can we really not fund these programs more? I mean, we’re the richest country in the history of mankind yet we can’t take care of children without a family, people who legitimately have no way to help themselves. I’m dumbfounded,” said sophomore Jae Longaro.

Children, especially young ones, are traumatized after being sent to cinderblock facilities. The state is looking to expand institutional programs for all children according to The Oregonian. In 2018, Oregon child welfare leaders signed a court settlement promising to stop housing foster care children in prisons, state offices, and hotels instead of with families. Yet during the same time period, the state placed a greater number of children and teens in these repurposed juvenile jails. In July 2018, the state had 400 foster care children assigned to live in these disturbing environments.

Across the country, foster care programs are underfunded; this leads children in foster care to be underfed and underdeveloped. How, in a society that values family as much as ours, are we leaving any child to grow up in a real-life nightmare, perpetuating a cycle of depression and poverty? Without a good education, sufficient food, good shelter, and extracurricular activities, children can’t grow into upstanding citizens.

“Who cares about the costs? The government can find whatever funds for whatever they want and starving children in jail should be a priority,” said junior David Gold.

In Douglas County, Oregon, a wing of the county juvenile detention center has been remodeled as a living center for teenagers and children in the foster care program. Juvenile Department director Aric Fromdahl says his staff has done its best job turning two “pods” of their detention facility — a grey cinderblock with an enclosed exercise yard — into a welcoming space.

“We have kids with high needs. We don’t have the capacity to really serve those high needs for these kids,” said Jones, the Oregon child welfare director in a personal interview with The Oregonian.

Every child regardless of family or socioeconomic status should have a home, three meals a day, and activities through which they can grow. It is unacceptable that the United States of America, one of the most developed countries in the world, does not have that. Politicians are not doing their job.

“I think it’s disgusting honestly. This is the reason we pay taxes — so that orphans don’t have to go hungry on the street. We have a government and children in jail is a key argument as to why it’s not working,” said junior Becca Packer.

Whether it be corruption or ignorance, not enough has been done to curb the issue. They stand there in their hollow suits, say empty words and do nothing. The state of our country, with orphans in prison, is unacceptable. Something has to be done. If you would like to help, call your senator and ask about programs to help orphaned kids throughout the nation. This can not be a state issue. National standards must be applied. The people have to act.