May 19, 2017 6:09 am
May is National Foster Care Month, which reminds us of the many children, youth, and families in our communities who lack a safe and stable home. Nearly 428,000 children and youth in the United States reside in foster care and are looking to be reunited with their families, or find another option like kinship care, guardianship or adoption.
This year, our theme is “Empowering Caregivers, Strengthening Families.” We’re taking the time to honor the collective efforts of all who assist these young people and their families. Children and youth in foster care often face unique challenges, but the support they receive helps them pursue the promising future every child deserves.
One foster family reminds us that resource families — which includes foster, adoptive and kinship caregivers — are critical supports for children and youth in foster care. The family discusses the decision to foster and the support they received from their state’s child welfare agency.
They also remind us of the overwhelming need for individuals, families and communities to become role models to these youngsters by serving as foster parents, respite providers, volunteers or mentors. These relationships are the basis for a continuum of care that effectively supports families involved in foster care.
The National Foster Care Month website has many resources that emphasize the importance of identifying, developing and supporting prospective and current foster parents and kinship caregivers.
By supporting resource families, we help them address the unique needs of each child placed in their care, improve placement stability, and strengthen their relationships with birth families, children and youth in foster care, and child welfare agencies.
During National Foster Care Month and throughout the year, we encourage all Americans to consider how they can support children in foster care and their families, as well as the individuals and child welfare professionals who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of these children. Not everyone is in a position to foster a child, but everyone can play a role in supporting those who do.
And to all who have given their time, love and commitment to children and youth in foster care and their families, we thank you.
Visit the Children’s Bureau’s National Foster Care Month website to learn more.
By: Penny Putnam-Collins, Child Welfare Program Manager, Child Welfare Information Gateway and Cynthia Peterson, Child Welfare Program Manager, Child Welfare Information Gateway