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How You Can Be a Part of National Foster Care Month

Happy National Foster Care Month! May is the month when we appreciate all that the foster care system and the foster care professionals and families do for children throughout the United States. This year’s theme is “Empowering Caregivers, Strengthening Families” to highlight prospective and current foster parents and kinship caregivers. Without them, the foster care system could not provide the safe homes many children across the nation need.

However, the U.S. foster system tends to get a bad rap — which it doesn’t entirely deserve.  A lot of the negative connotations people have with foster care is because of misinformation and a lack of awareness about what exactly the foster care system is and what it does. In honor of Foster Care Awareness Month, we encourage all people to take a few minutes and learn some more about this important government agency — and then share their new knowledge with friends and family.

1. What exactly is the foster care system?

The foster care system is designed as a safekeeping system for children whose parents need more time or preparation to provide a safer home environment. The ultimate goal of foster care is reunification so, after a parent has completed a reunification plan that prepares them to be more successful parents, a child is typically returned back to the custody of their parents.
For those children whose parents cannot complete a reunification plan, they will become available for adoption through the foster care system after their parents’ rights are terminated. Until they are adopted or reach age 18, they will live with foster parents who are fully trained and supported by foster care professionals. Many times, foster parents end up adopting their long-term foster children. More than 400,000 children have found temporary or permanent homes through the foster care system since 1921.

2. How can I be a part of National Foster Care Month?

Whether you’re involved in foster care or not, you can always be an advocate for the foster care system. The Children’s Bureau has several ways you can spread information and awareness about the realities of foster care, including through:

3. How else can I support the foster care system?

The U.S. foster care system needs support every month of the year, not just in May. One of the biggest ways you can get involved is by becoming a foster parent yourself. There are many kind of foster care, including long-term and short-term, and your local Department of Social Services will provide you all the training and support you need to create a safe, loving and nurturing home for foster children.
If you can’t become a foster parent, you can still support the foster care system in other ways. Find local programs that support foster care, and participate in fundraisers benefitting foster children. Donate much-needed supplies like pajamas and toiletries for children in temporary care, or offer your specialized services (like photography or web design) to your local agencies for free.

Being a foster caregiver isn’t always easy, which is why we should all take this month to salute those who have sacrificed their time and energy to provide love and support to children who very much need it. Make the most of National Foster Care Month by sharing your stories, reaching out to the foster care community and adding your voice to a cause that makes a difference in so many lives.