May is Foster Care Awareness Month!

May is a month that brings hope as the trees bloom, we all finally commit to buying flowers knowing that there are no more unexpected freezes. We are hopeful as we watch graduates get ready for their next adventure and hopeful that another summer is approaching. May is also National Foster Care Awareness Month. Nothing is as hopeful as a child seeking their forever home. Read more to learn more, some stats about foster care, supporting families who are fostering, and even becoming a foster parent yourself. 

What is Foster Care Awareness Month?

According to the Children’s Bureau, National Foster Care Awareness Month began in 1988 to recognize foster parents and to shed light on foster care in our country. The needs of this month change regularly and currently, this is an opportunity to raise awareness of children who are in foster care or who need foster parents. Check out the National Foster Care Awareness Month page for more information on supporting foster children, family reunification and foster parenting. 

Foster Care in the United States

Did you know that currently, there are around 424,000 children in the foster care system in the United States alone. Some are waiting for reunification, some are potentially aging out of the system soon without ever being adopted, and many are staying with relatives while their case is looked into further. 

According to iFoster, there is a history of underinvesting in foster care and that because of this, children can suffer because they are not prepared to be independent. It is noted that “within four years of aging out [of foster care] 70% will be on government assistance, 25% will not have completed high school, and less than 12% will ever earn their college degree.” Because of this, National Foster Care Awareness Month has been utilized in the past few years to encourage adoption of children who are currently in the foster care system.

Many people aren’t aware of the ability to adopt out of foster care. Traditionally, when people think of adoption, they may just consider adopting from infancy, but adopting from foster care is gaining more coverage and more individuals and couples are building their family this way.

How to Support Families who are Fostering and Children in the Foster Care System

If you’re not considering becoming a foster parent or adopting out of the foster care system at this time, there are still many things you can do to support children in the foster care system and families who are fostering children.

Donate Items for Foster Children

Social workers and agencies are often looking for donations for children in the foster care system. As you’ve likely heard, many children go from placement to placement with a trash bag of their belongings, which can be very upsetting. Consider donating used suitcases or backpacks (or if you can, buy new ones). Teenagers are often in need of toiletries and all ages can use nice clothing, so the next time you go through your families’ closets, consider what might be able to be donated. Still need donation items? Consider doing some toy and school supply shopping to share!

Reach out to Foster Families   

If you know a foster family, reach out to them to see if there’s anything you can offer to them. Remember that they don’t receive a lot of funding to help with the children they foster, so consider helping with meals, groceries and they may also be in need of some of the items listed above. From clothes to diapers to shoes and toiletries, there are a lot of things that may come in handy. Still not sure what to do? Consider helping to get a bedroom ready for a new foster placement or ask for a list of what you can do!

Offer your Time

Not everyone is able to contribute financially, but you can donate your time. See if a social worker, adoption agency, etc. can use your time. Consider hosting a drive to get items donated that they need. If you know a family fostering, consider seeing if you’re able to babysit or help out around their home.

There are a lot of things that you can do to bring attention to National Foster Care Awareness Month, as well as many things that you can do to support!

Interested in becoming an adoptive parent for a child in foster care? Click here to attend an informational meeting.