May is Foster Care Month

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National Partnership Offers Dozens of Ways to Change a Lifetime for Children and Youth

foster care, national foster care month
Foster Care Month is a great opportunity to highlight the different ways to help change a lifetime.

May is National Foster Care Month, a time designated by the National Foster Care Month Partnership to shine a public light on the plight of children and youth in foster care. Despite a decline in the total number of children in foster care – from more than a half million in 2007 to approximately 424,000 at the end of 2009 – serious issues remain, especially for older youth in care.

Over the last decade, the number of young people who “age out” of foster care has risen steadily – from 19,000 in 1999 to nearly 30,000 in 2008. On their own, without the safety net of a family or the education they need to compete in the workplace, these young adults are more likely to face homelessness, incarceration, poverty, and other negative outcomes.

“It is absolutely critical for states to fully implement the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008,” said Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, Chairperson of the National Foster Care Coalition. “This legislation provides important supports for older youth in care, including reimbursable foster care and adoption payments for young people over 18, and it expands eligibility for Independent Living services for some kids.”

In addition to educating public policy leaders on the issues facing children and families, and urging state legislators to implement all aspects of the Fostering Connections Act, the Foster Care Month Partnership calls on all Americans to help make a difference in the life of at least one young person in foster care.

“We hope to help make people realize that no matter who they are and how much – or how little – time they may have, everyone can make a difference for a child in foster care. Foster Care Month is a great opportunity to highlight the different ways to help change a lifetime,” said Pai-Espinosa.

Everyday citizens can help to change a lifetime for a child or youth in foster care by becoming foster or adoptive parents; serving as relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, or volunteers;
and encouraging employers/employees to volunteer their time as professional coaches and role models for foster youth or young families with children in foster care.

The National Foster Care Month website ( lists dozens of ways for people to get involved and make a lasting difference for America’s children, including:

  •     Listen to digital stories shared by former youth in foster care, social workers, child welfare supervisors, parents, family partners, advocates, judges and CASA workers to learn about the experiences and perspectives of those impacted by foster care.
  •     Make a financial contribution to support the personal enrichment or education of a young person in foster care.
  •     Wear a Blue Ribbon during May in support of National Foster Care Month. Attend a local ribbon-tying ceremony to advocate on behalf of children in foster care in your state.
  •     Donate goods such as suitcases, books, games, computers, sports equipment, musical instruments, clothing and school supplies to young people in foster care.
  •     Volunteer with a local foster care program to provide personal, social and academic enrichment opportunities for youth in your community.
  •     Recognize a person or organization helping youth in foster care in your community by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper in praise of someone making a difference in the life of a child in foster care.
  •     Tutor a child in foster care because they must change schools frequently (or sometimes have social/behavioral challenges to overcome), and would benefit greatly from extra academic support.
  •     Encourage business leaders in your community to support young people in foster care.
  •     Become a foster or adoptive parent. Caring families are especially needed for older youth, siblings and children with special needs.
  •     Make a Permanency Pact. Supportive relationships with caring adults make all the difference in the world, especially for older youth leaving the foster care system.
  •     Stay informed year-round. Become a member of the National Foster Care Coalition and join leading child welfare agencies and individuals to improve the lives of youth in foster care.

The National Foster Care Month Partnership consists of the following national organizations: American Public Human Services Association/National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators; Annie E. Casey Foundation/Casey Family Services; Black Administrators in Child Welfare; Casey Family Programs; Children’s Bureau; Children’s Rights; Children Youth Development Foundation; Child Welfare League of America; Foster Care Alumni of America; FosterClub; Foster Family-Based Treatment Association; Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; National Association of Social Workers; National Association of State Foster Care Managers; National CASA; National Foster Care Coalition; National Foster Parent Association; National Indian Child Welfare Association; National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections; National Resource Center for Youth Services/Development; Orphan Foundation of America; and Voices for America’s Children.

To arrange an interview with a partner organization or young person in foster care, contact Marty McOmber at mmcomber(at)casey(dot)org or (206) 270-4907. Visit for information about National Foster Care Month, the national partners, and for more ways to help.


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Marty McOmber

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foster care, national foster care month