What’s in a number? A number by itself only exists as a concept. However, when applied to something tangible it takes on meaning.
For instance, my son went to the doctor the other day. They checked his weight (a number), took his blood pressure (more numbers), and asked his age (another number). Each number resulting from the three inquiries at the doctor’s office took on meaning when attached to something tangible.
Of course this is true in silly examples like, “How many tacos do I want to eat?” Or, “Is 10 minutes of power walking okay instead of the 30 that I first intended?” The former will contribute to my girth and the latter to my energy level and cardio health. Numbers need application to actually mean something.
Here’s a number for your consideration: 11,606. That’s the number of kids in foster care in the custody of the state of Oklahoma as of February 28, 2014. Out of that number 1,073 were in trial reunification with biological parents – but still in the custody of the state. This means that 10,533 Oklahoma children are in the custody of the state and living in an environment somewhere that is not “home.” By the way, the number of kids in foster care at the end of January 2014 was 11,121. An increase of 485 children removed from situations of abuse and neglect occurred in Oklahoma in just one month!
Be careful not to miss the fact that the stats are more than simply numbers. Statistics really consist of individual stories, the personal, tear-stained faces as well as the traumatized perspectives of each child making up that increase of 485.
In 2011 my wife and I attended a gathering called “8046 Conference.” We were interested in learning all we could about the need of children in state’s care, as well as discovering ideas on how to lead God’s people, in particular, Council Road Baptist Church, to make a difference in Jesus’ name.
We also attended the next year’s gathering but under a different name: “8308 Conference.” Why did the leadership of these annual gatherings focused on foster care and adoption choose a number for a name? The numbers 8046 and 8308 represented the number of kids in the foster system in Oklahoma at the beginning of 2011 and 2012. You will note the sharp increase in the number in state’s custody from 2011 to the present. Sad indeed.
The Oklahoma Foster Care Forum is the updated name of this conference. The leadership of the gathering changed the name in 2013. This year’s conference, for the western region of the state, will be on Thursday, April 24, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at North Church in Oklahoma City. Should you choose to attend you will hear from area professionals as well as foster and adoptive parents. You will be inspired and encouraged and resourced to move toward the legal orphans in our own state.
I hope you’ll consider joining us for this regional event. Check out the website for more information and to register for this free event: okfostercareforum.org.