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They woke up to sirens. Thanks to foster parents, they're falling asleep to a reassuring voice.

Foster parents can be a safe harbor for children who are lost and drifting.

They woke up to sirens. Thanks to foster parents, they're falling asleep to a reassuring voice.

No one wants to break up families. But sometimes it's what has to happen.

Although most social services programs work hard to keep families together, sometimes they have to remove kids from dangerous homes. Many children enter foster care confused, angry, and with literally nothing to their name.


There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States.

That's 400,000 disrupted lives. 400,000 questions about when or if they'll go home. 400,000 different stories.

Some of those kids will stay with their foster families for only a few days. Others may never go home. Around a quarter of them are eligible for adoption, but only about 10% will be adopted.

While the kids are in safe homes, their parents receive support services to try to make their home safer for the children, including drug rehab and parenting classes. Around half of the kids who leave foster care return to their parents.

All images via Foster Care Support Foundation.

The good news is, there are lots of great families welcoming these kids.

About 23% of them are relatives or close friends of the children — these "relative placements" help kids maintain ties to their birth families. Of the kids who end up being adopted out of foster care, over half were adopted by their foster parents.

The great news is, even if you don't have the resources to be a foster parent, you can totally help foster kids.

  • Mentor foster kids and teens. Young adults aging out of foster care are more successful when they have an adult they can trust to guide them through their first steps out on their own.
  • Serve as a special advocate to keep foster kids from getting lost in the shuffle of the legal system. You don't have to be a lawyer or a social worker. Anyone with good common sense and a desire to help kids can volunteer and receive training.
  • Volunteer for respite care, which is like being a foster parent but just for a couple of days at a time. Kids would come to you when their birth, adoptive, or foster families need a break. Think of it as a chance to be the fun aunt or uncle for a kid who could really use one.
  • Support political initiatives that keep families together and reduce stress on parents, like increasing the minimum wage and providing health care services for children.
  • Donate items to or fundraise for social work organizations. They need clean clothes in sizes from preemie to adult, safe infant equipment, and toys in good condition. They also need luggage because these children move around a lot; not having to use garbage bags gives them a little dignity.

The actors in the video below show the story of two children who have to leave their home in the middle of the night with nothing but their pajamas.

The next day, their foster parents take them to a distribution center run by Georgia-based Foster Care Support Foundation, where they can choose what they need from an array of donated toys and clothes. Cue all the good feelings. It's an example of how a community can come together to help children when their lives are turned upside down.


They miss their home and are uncertain about their future, but the support of their community stabilizes them.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less