Traumatizing the Traumatized

Posted on by Tacoma YFC

"I started working this job because I wanted to help hurting children, but now that I’m in it I simply feel like I am traumatizing the traumatized."


Her words stuck with me. As a social worker for the state she watches daily as children sit in an empty office space and wait, sometimes hours on end, as we search to find a home.


I am an emergency placement coordinator for a program called Receiving Care in YFC. We take phone calls around the clock and help place children coming into care the best we can into 30 day temporary beds. I work alongside families everyday whose primary response is “yes” to any child I call them about. To say they are my heroes is a massive understatement. That said, there are still more children than there are homes. The social worker's words resonated with me as I shared in her turmoil. The last thing you want to offer a traumatized child is a long day of uncertainty, but often that is all we have available.


Maybe you are somewhat like me; 20-something, middle class, white, educated, female. Although life has never been easy per se, it has also never been real hard. If so, then you might relate to the fact that it is relatively easy to ignore world issues around you. Why? Because the truth is, if I would have ever had to have been removed from my parents as a child I still never would have been placed in foster care. The long list of people that would have swooped me and my siblings up is extensive. It’s hard to be empathetic when you haven’t walked in their shoes. There it is, I said it.

But there is something so wrong about this mindset, something I have been reminded of on a daily basis with each CPS referral that appears in my inbox. Proverbs makes this clear in Chapter 22:2 when the author reminds us that we are all cut from the same cloth. One thing unites us, that the God of Heaven and earth created us. Every difference falls away in the presence of our Creator and we stand on level ground, side by side, at the foot of the cross. When I fail to relate to a child in need, I fail to remember where I have been saved from. And when I fail to rise to the call, I fail to reflect Christ to a desperate and dying world.

Last week I was checking in with one of our veteran foster parents who has served children and families in foster care for over 30 years. Their house is a constant buzz as they continually take in 5 teenage boys at a time. Retirement has looked very different for them than most of America.

He let out a sigh and said, “There are some days when it feels like everyone should be doing this.”

The Church

Wouldn’t that be something? In Pierce County there are more churches than there are foster children (around 1,000) which means, if in every church one family said yes to fostering then every child in foster care in Pierce County could be in a Christian home. One home in every one church meets the need for every one child in Pierce County. That is doable. Isn’t that how it should be? When I blindly entered the field of foster care (I was simply looking for a job) it only took a couple days for me to find myself shocked that despite being a “pew baby” I had never heard of the need of foster care from the church.


Let’s change this.

What if being a foster parent was the christian norm in America? What if every church had at least one family fostering, and every foster family had a church family supporting them? What if there was a greater opportunity for children and their families in foster care to meet Christ in the system than outside of the system? What if the Church said, "yes"? I can tell you one thing, the social workers would feel a lot less like they were causing further trauma and much more like they were giving hope.

“Maybe if I had never picked up the one child I would have never picked up the 42,000 others.” -Mother Teresa

- Kate

Kate Rabb serves Tacoma YFC as a Foster Care Receiving Care Case Manager. Visit Kate's Blog

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