Of Nail Polish, Foster Children and Identity Theft

In March, National PTA’s Every Child in Focus campaign centers on the Foster Child. This post from a proud foster parent highlights the joys and challenges that come with the territory.

Lifelock_March172015I have three wonderful children. They sing at full volume when we’re all in the car. They attack each other with straws at the Mexican restaurant. Just normal, energetic kids. So when my wife and I decided to become licensed foster parents we knew we were bringing more excitement into our already full home.

Last month a curly-haired little girl arrived. She was dropped off with a small bag of clothes and a few stuffed animals. Raising my own kids is already a challenge, but stirring a new addition into the bowl presents all types of new challenges. Now there are more messes in the living room, more tears at bedtime and more spilled nail polish on the carpet. Did I mention red nail polish, on the tan carpet? This was not an easy cleanup.

The reality is the home our foster child was taken out of wasn’t safe. As parents, we go to great lengths to ensure that the children under our care have a safe environment. We make sure the people in our home are emotionally healthy. We lock up the bleach and the weed killer in the shed. We hold hands when we cross the street on the way to the park. Children need parents to create safe places for them to grow up and successfully transition into adult life.

Foster children can have it especially difficult. Some bounce from house to house, they’re in and out of group homes, and many never arrive in a long-term home. Even in the best of circumstances, the odds are against them. According to the Children’s Advocacy Institute, foster children are at high risk of being homeless after aging out of care, less likely to graduate high school than other kids, and end up incarcerated at a much higher rate than other children.

On top of that, foster children are often victims of identity theft. Their personal information passes through group homes social workers, relatives and foster parents. There’s no shortage of opportunities for people to steal and misuse this sensitive information. That leaves them unable to rent an apartment or even purchase a mobile phone after they age out of the system because identity thieves have ruined their credit.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation produced a guide to help adults working with young people in foster care to implement a credit check requirement authorized by federal law. The guide also recommends that adults educate foster children about the threat of identity theft and the importance of establishing good credit.

My wife and I will do our best to care for our foster child for as long as we are able. It saddens us to know that there are others who will take advantage of such vulnerable kids by abusing their identities. I’m proud that my company, LifeLock, supports local organizations that advocate on behalf of foster children, and I hope others to join the effort.

And if you’ve ever considered becoming a foster parent, I strongly encourage you to take the next step and get in contact with a local foster care agency. I promise you the chance to provide a child with safety and love more than makes up for a little spilled nail polish on the carpet.

Thomas Kinsfather is the Manager of LifeLock Quality Management, and a proud foster parent.

National PTA thanks LifeLock for their generous corporate contribution to support the foster care component of Every Child in Focus.

LifeLock is a financial sponsor of National PTA, and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

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