National Foster Care Month
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National Foster Care Month is observed in the United States during the month of May every year. It began with President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Since 1988, National Foster Care Month continues to be recognized and celebrated.
The original focus was to give foster parents the recognition they deserved for opening their homes to foster children in need and caring for them. However, the main focus and theme changes with every passing year. For example, in 2012, the theme for National Foster Care Month was "Achieving well-being with children and youth in care." Some of the main focuses of National Foster Care Month include the encouragement of adopting children from the foster care system, appreciation of social workers and other professionals who work with foster children and families, and mentoring programs for foster children who have aged out of the system. During this month, there are volunteer opportunities and information meetings that take place across the country. The topics of those meetings include how to become a foster parent, how to support the local foster community, and how to adopt from foster care.
Currently, it's estimated that over 408,000 children are in foster care. Some of these children aren't eligible for adoption, but many of them are. Every year, over 30,000 children age out of the foster system without a chance at permanence, which means the foster children are reaching the age of eighteen, no longer wards of the state, and out on their own. This means that the youth over the age of eighteen have no familial support, resources, or even job or life skills. These facts have fueled the motivation behind National Foster Care Month.
Every year the current President of the United States issues a Presidential Proclamation specifically on National Foster Care Month.
When President Obama declared May 2015 to be National Foster Care Month, he included words never before included in a White House proclamation about adoption, stating in part, "With so many children waiting for loving homes, it is important to ensure all qualified caregivers have the opportunity to serve as foster or adoptive parents, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. That is why we are working to break down the barriers that exist and investing in efforts to recruit more qualified parents for children in foster care." Thus it appears he is the first president to explicitly say gender identity should not prevent anyone from adopting or becoming a foster parent.
Congress also recognizes National Foster Care Month as well. In 2015 Representative Karen Bass (D-CA), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, introduced a resolution recognizing May as National Foster Care Month. The resolution stated that “an increased emphasis on prevention and reunification services is necessary to reduce the number of children that are forced to remain the foster care system” and called on “Congress to implement policy to improve the lives of the children in the foster care. system.”
The resolution had 125 cosponsors.
National Foster Youth Shadow Day
Organized by the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, the annual National Foster Youth Shadow Day draws more than 60 current and former foster youth to the nation’s capital. The young people have meetings at the White House with members of the administration and spend a day shadowing their member of Congress in the Capitol to tell their stories.
In 2014, television personality Dr. Phil McGraw testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on National Foster Youth Shadow Day about the problem of foster youth being over-medicated with psychotropic drugs.
According to the National Foster Care Coalition, National Foster Care Month has three main campaign goals:
- Raising awareness of foster care issues.
- Motivating others to help foster care and foster children succeed.
- Create a positive framework that maintains the progress made during the month of May throughout the rest of the year.
National Foster Care Month is supported and maintained by the Children's Bureau, Children Welfare Information Gateway, and the National Resource for Permanency and Family Connections, the National Foster Youth Institute, the Casey Family Programs, Foster Club, and the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth.
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- National Foster Care Coalition - Home
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- Home | Children's Bureau | Administration for Children and Families
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- National Foster Care Month: an opportunity of a lifetime - chicagotribune.com
- Idaho sees growing need for foster families | News - Home
- During National Foster Care Month, City Launches Campaign Focusing On Fostering Of Older Youth « CBS Philly
- Celebrating National Foster Care Month in Milwaukee County | FOX6Now.com
- Welcome to Las Vegas Sign goes blue for Foster Care Month - www.ktnv.com
- Celebrating National Foster Care Month - May 2013 - Ukiah Daily Journal
- Mural on Free Speech Wall Begins Foster Care Awareness Month - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather
- Foster care month kicks off - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI
- Northwest Voices | Sen. Claudia Kauffman on May, National Foster Care Month | Seattle Times Newspaper
- Commentary: We Must Care for Black Foster Youth | News | BET
- ‘Awesome’ Foster Family Day held at Fort Knox — State — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine