By Aubrey Schmitt
DMACC Honors student
Growing up in a house of six, I was surrounded by love and support from all members of my family. Some memories from my childhood are most likely pretty familiar to many of you. I played outside with friends and decorated my very own room. I spent Christmas with loved ones, and sat around the table to eat dinner with my family just about every night.
As I look back, there are other things I experienced, but overlooked: I had a backyard to play in and a house to live in. I had siblings to play with and look up to. By the age of 8, I had a room of my own and a bed to be tucked in to. I was fortunate enough to receive Christmas gifts every year. Most importantly, I had a family that made me feel loved and appreciated. Many children grow up feeling the same way, but this certainly is not true for everyone. I believe all children should be able to feel this support and love. I believe more people should help and visit foster homes and non-profit organizations for children.
In the United States in 2015, there were “4.0 million referrals alleging maltreatment to CPS (Child Protective Services) involving 7.2 million children; 58.2% of these referrals were screened in (became reports)” (Child Maltreatment.) Just under half of these reports were sent in by professionals (teachers, police officers, lawyers, etc.) Some examples of reports may involve physical or emotional harm, drug abuse in the home, neglect, and more. After reported, 148,262 of the total children received foster care services or other non-profit organization services. The total number of children relocated away from their home may not seem like much in comparison to the number of referrals, but just think, over 100,000 children in the United States were sent away somewhere else because their very own home was endangering them.
This past summer I participated in a leadership conference in Des Moines called Leadership Iowa University. One of our days consisted of visiting non-profit organizations. We spent a couple hours at YESS, Youth Emergency Safety Services. The services they provide are miraculous; specifically through YESS, in 2016, 1,034 children were matched with a care coordination team. I was grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with the people that started the company.
Our time was well spent at YESS; we all got to pick a room to spend time with the children of a specific age group. My whole group of 15 agreed it was eye-opening and really gave us a new perspective. Personally, I felt appalled by the thought that the children in YESS were there for a reason…and it wasn’t a good one. Last year at YESS alone, 15,500 nights of shelter care were provided to children of all ages (YESS.) Not all children are as fortunate as many of us were, and I strongly believe all children should be raised and surrounded by the love and support I grew up to know. After my time at YESS, I felt like I made a difference. Even just spending a couple hours with the children put big smiles on their faces, and I felt good knowing that I brightened up their day a bit.
If given the opportunity, I believe everyone should reach out to local foster homes or organizations like YESS and see if there is anything they can do to help. At YESS specifically, getting involved to volunteer is easy. Give them a call at 515-282-9377 and ask for Jana Daisy: she is the Community Activities Manager. YESS offers many volunteering opportunities such as tutoring, taking care of babies in the nursery, or even just playing with the kids. Any one of the simple acts above makes a huge positive impact on the child’s life.
Sometimes we as individuals forget how fortunate we are, and how fortunate we have been; let’s take a stand and help more children feel the love and appreciation they deserve in this world.
Aubrey Schmitt is from West Burlington, Iowa. She will graduate from DMACC/Boone in spring 2017 and transfer to Iowa State University in the fall to major in marketing and minor in communications.