May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize the role each of us plays in the lives of children and youth in foster care. There are over 6,000 children in the foster care system in this state and less than 2,000 licensed foster parents. These children are currently are in foster care because their own families are in crisis and unable to provide for their essential well-being. Many organizations, communities and caregivers are working to address the needs of these children, who need a stable and secure home until they can either return to their parents or establish a lifelong connection to a nurturing adult. National Foster Care Month raises awareness about the urgent needs of these young people and encourages citizens from every walk of life to get involved – as foster or adoptive parents, volunteers, mentors, employers or in other ways.
No matter their age, all children in foster care need a meaningful connection to at least one caring adult who becomes a supportive and lasting presence in their lives. Without families or stable relationships, too many of these formerly neglected and/or abused children and teens will end up facing life’s challenges all alone. Child welfare issues arise in families of every race, ethnicity, culture and age group.
Research shows that young people who age out of foster care are far more likely than their peers in the general population to endure homelessness, poverty, compromised mental and physical health, insufficient education, unemployment, incarceration, and early pregnancy and parenthood. Older youth are in most urgent need of attention. Nearly half of the young people in foster care are older than age 10. For many years, the number of young people aging out of foster care has increased. That number currently is about 30,000 each year. These young people exit foster care without the appropriate family connections, resources, mentorship, employment, skills or options they need to live independently.
Children and youth in foster care are capable of overcoming the repercussions of previous neglect and/or abuse. Across the state, people just like you are raising their voices and raising awareness about the issues facing children and families. Supporting children and families is something we as the body of Christ should take and active role. Throughout the nation, everyday people are serving as foster parents, relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, social workers and volunteers. Thanks to these unsung heroes, many formerly abused or neglected children and teens will either reunite safely with their parents, be cared for by relatives, or be adopted by loving families.
We can make a difference in the lives of these children, youth and birth families and there are many ways to serve besides becoming a full-time foster parent. For more information on how to get involved, contact Ken Jones.
Posted: 5.14.2014 in Mercy Share: