The month of May is designated as National Foster Care Month. To show appreciation and gratitude to foster parents across the country, a proclamation was issued in 1988 in recognition of National Foster Care Month. This year’s theme is “Strengthening Minds. Uplifting Families.” The purpose of this is to raise awareness about issues related to foster care and to honor those who have devoted their time and energy to aiding children, youth, and families.
Supporting Foster Children
There are over 391,000 children and youth in foster care. Over 402,000 children were in the foster care system during the year 2021. Up to 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health issues compared to approximately 18 to 22 percent of the general population. Children deserve to grow up in a safe environment with a family that cares about them as individuals. It is important to ensure that children are safe and that they will not be neglected at home. For children to feel supported, foster parents must provide a family-like environment.
If you are unable to become a foster parent, you can always volunteer to work with foster children. Foster children can be supported by reading to them, tutoring them, and teaching them basic skills. The needs of foster children are no less important than those of children who are not in foster care. They require the same support as any other child. Each child’s foster care story is unique. They may have been raised in an abusive or neglectful environment. Perhaps you could make it your mission to comfort them during difficult times.
Foster care is meant to provide safe, temporary living arrangements and support services for children who have been removed from their families due to maltreatment, lack of safety or inadequate care. At the age of twelve, my mother went into foster care due to abuse that was occurring in her home by her own mother. Although my mother was not abused while in foster care, she was not properly cared for as she expected when she was offered this option to escape her abusive home. Upon learning that I would be writing an article about National Foster Care Month, she asked me to emphasize the importance of background checks for those who wish to take in foster children. It is unfortunate that some people become foster parents for the purpose of obtaining financial benefits rather than a true desire to help children.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services believes that of the estimated 826,000 children who were maltreated in the nation in 1999, 1.5% (approximately 12,390) were maltreated by “substitute care providers,” a category that includes foster parents, residential care providers, and child care providers (USDHHS, 2002). While this statistic is not as high as some may expect, it is alarming, given that one of the primary goals of foster care is to protect children from abusive or neglectful environments. It is also imperative to recognize and understand what must be changed within the foster care system. A comfortable and safe environment is essential for children.
Supporting Foster Parents
Although it is not everyone’s calling to become a foster parent, you can choose to support those who are. You can support a foster parent or foster family in a variety of ways. Foster parents provide nurturing and care to children in need. Foster parents need support as much as the children do, as they are providing an enormous amount of assistance.
One way to support a foster family is by providing food. Supporting the family by purchasing tasty snacks and stocking their freezer with a variety of meals is one of the best ways to help. Foster families won’t have to worry about spending money on food or spending hours at the grocery store, deciding what can be afforded. Even getting coffee with a foster parent is a simple way to show support.
Foster families may also benefit from receiving the supplies they need to be successful foster parents. They may have a newborn and need diapers or a baby gate. Perhaps they have a child who is starting middle school and in need of new clothes for the new school year. Regardless of the age of the child, foster families will require the appropriate supplies to provide the best home for the child.
The most effective way to support a foster family is to become a primary supporter. You can show your appreciation by stepping up and becoming their primary support. You could be a babysitter for the evening or provide transportation to school. As a supporter, it is necessary to make sure the family has what they need on a continuous basis.
According to the National Safe Place Network, “Adopt. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, sponsor. If you can’t sponsor, volunteer. If you can’t volunteer, donate. If you can’t donate, educate.” There are many ways to demonstrate your support for the foster care system, even if your goal is only to raise awareness about foster care.
The purpose of foster care awareness is to assist in its development. A demonstration of awareness may encourage someone else to understand the importance of caring for foster children. Depending on the situation, they may become parents or simply serve as a support to the family. The possibilities are endless!
What can you do to help? The first step is to post graphics on social media, in e-mail communications, and throughout other digital communications. You will raise awareness about your post by using the necessary hashtags. Share information about National Foster Care Month with your followers. This may be the first time people hear of foster care awareness. Sharing information will raise awareness of its importance.
The second way to spread awareness is to contact state and local leaders and request a proclamation. It may be of benefit to your community when it comes to understanding the importance of the foster care system. To demonstrate why they should pay attention to this issue, provide key facts and statistics.
Celebrating foster parents and children is one of the best ways to show support. Perhaps you could ask foster parents you encounter how they would like to be recognized for what they are doing or come up with some great ideas. Sending cards or letters to foster care families in your community is an easy way to express your gratitude. An act of kindness will demonstrate your appreciation for what they are doing. If you obtain their permission, you can share the success stories of foster care families on social media. By sharing their success, another couple may be motivated to foster a child. You can support a foster family in a number of ways, so decide and take action today.