A Personal Note from ESP Founder Randi Rubenstein
When I brought my first foster child home in 1995, the enormity of the responsibilities came as much of a challenge to me as it does for most parents. It is a daily struggle to get it right – teach, protect, nurture, and inspire self-esteem and healthy choices for my children – and balance all this with the other aspects and stresses of daily life.
Fortunately I had the benefit of parenting classes, which were required before becoming licensed as a foster parent. I was surprised to learn so much about children’s needs, and effective ways to respond and encourage their growth. This was new information I had not encountered in high school, college, or graduate school. My discovery of this valuable information illuminated a serious gap in the way we prepare people for parenting. I wondered: Doesn’t everyone who becomes a parent need to know how to provide for and protect a child? Why isn’t this information widely available, especially for those with the greatest life challenges? Why aren’t we taught this information before we have children so we can be better prepared?
Within a few years of becoming a foster parent, my home was filled to capacity with foster children. I was now acutely aware of the many, many children in need. And I was aware that more children were entering foster care on a daily basis. I became haunted by all the children aching for love and praying for their parents to change.
There is no shortage of hurt and wounded children, both inside and outside the Child Protective System. There are not enough open homes or open beds or open arms to hold them all. There is not enough love to completely heal the hurt caused by a parent who gave them birth but cannot parent them well. Hurt children, yearning for connection, are the teens who are most eager and least prepared to create a family. In turn, they frequently give rise to another generation of hurt children.
We face an unchanged future unless we make a better effort to educate young adults on the importance and skills for becoming a good parent.
Recognizing an urgent need for change, I founded ESP to offer instruction and educational materials to increase young adults’ awareness of their future responsibilities as parents. My hope is they will enter into this grand adventure better prepared than the generations before them. And whether or not they become a parent, I hope all young adults will learn the importance of self-care, constructive methods for managing relationships, and the value of goal-setting. Most of all, I hope ESP will help young adults embrace the many ways they can create a lasting legacy through the care and protection of our next generation of children
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