The story within which we have been called as Church is the story of God’s mission to reconcile all of creation to himself. One of the great strides of the second half of the twentieth century was the growing understanding the big story of God’s mission (the ‘missio Dei’) as a holistic endeavour. As well as a commitment to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins, the Church is called as part of our participation in God’s mission to live out the characteristics of the Kingdom of God in society (expressed, for example, in the call in Micah 6:8 ‘to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God’.
In Monday’s post we saw that a passion for justice is an essential part of who God is. One way in which the Church in the UK can celebrate and express this Kingdom characteristic is to seek goodness, wholeness and ‘shalom’ in society. And this has incredibly practical implications for looked after children.
It simply isn’t right that the life chances of looked after children are so much poorer than those in permanent families. Consider these statistics:
There is a 40% gap in GCSE attainment between children who are in care and those who are not. Only 12% of looked after children achieve five or more GCSEs (including Maths and English) at grades A-C. The figure for ‘non looked-after children’ is 52%
Children leaving the care system are about six times less likely to go on to higher education than other young people
About 40% of care leavers are not in education, employment or training, compared with a national average of 15% of all 19-year-olds
“children and young people who are, or have been, in care are over five times more likely than other children to get involved in the criminal justice system” (Prison Reform Trust)
About a quarter of prisoners were in care at some point in their childhood or adolescence
30% of homeless people were in care
There is an intolerable inequity going on around us. The Church’s call to advocate for a more just society simply must address the lack of wholeness and shalom experienced by children in care. Despite the many efforts of many excellent people who work in the care system, could we not do more to improve the life chances of these young people.
What could your Church community do to improve just one of these statistics? In the light of these statistics, and the many stories behind them, what does the LORD our God require of us?
Read part one of the series: Because of who God is
Read part two of the series: Because vulnerable children occupy a significant place in the biblical narrative