In the mid 19th century, some 30,000 homeless or neglected children lived in New York City streets and slums. Charles Loring Brace, the founder of The Children's Aid Society, believed that there was a way to change the futures of these children. By removing youngsters from city streets and placing them in farm families, he thought they would have a chance of escaping a lifetime of suffering. He proposed that these children be sent by train to live and work on farms in the midwest and west. The resulting Orphan Train Movement lasted from 1853 to the early 1900s, and transported more than 120,000 children to new lives.
Throughout its history, The Children’s Aid Society has remained on the front lines of foster care reform and advocacy. The Orphan Train Movement and the success of other Children's Aid initiatives led to a host of national child welfare reforms including child labor laws, adoption, foster care services, public education, the provision of health care, and nutrition and vocational training.
Over 510,000 American children are in foster care, taken away when their families are in crisis and can’t take care of them. But there aren’t enough foster families to take them in. There isn’t enough money to provide them the things every child needs. There aren’t enough people to help them, mentor them, or to simply cheer them up and give them hope for the future.
If nothing changes… by the year 2020:
22,500 children will die of abuse or neglect, most before their fifth birthday
More than 10.5 million children will spend some time in foster care
More than 300,000 children will age out of our foster care system, some in poor health and many unprepared for success in higher education, technical college or the workforce
75,000 former foster youth, who aged out of the system, will experience homelessness
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