National Foster Care Day

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I love posting about some of the quirky National Days – from grilled cheese sandwiches to kazoos, they speak to the chaos in my mind. (Don’t overthink that!)

However, today’s national day, as well as the entire month of May, is for a cause I’ve supported since my late teens.

Dedicated to the all the children in the U.S. foster care system, National Foster Care Day on the first Tuesday in May encourages everyone to wear blue and raise their voices to show their support for foster youth everywhere.

I am not a foster child or foster parent, but through classmates, neighbors, church members, and co-workers, I feel as if I’ve always been connected to the system.  I’ve helped celebrate the successes, and attended funerals of those who felt there was no other way out.

Family and friends were not surprised when the foster care system was a focal point in my debut novel, In the Best Interest of the Child. Protagonist Olivia Chandler is a successful child advocate attorney who has a high success rate in winning cases for minor children. Olivia stumbles though when assigned a case by the court which mirrors her own childhood… when she was in foster care. Investigating the case forces Olivia to deal with trauma she’s avoided acknowledging… for almost thirty years.

The book is a work of fiction, but the situations are very real.

On the average, a child is placed into foster care every two minutes in the United States. The poor life choices and bad decisions of adults create dangerous and unhealthy environments children must be removed from. But placing a child into a “safe” foster home doesn’t solve the problem, and could actually create more or compound a child’s traumatic stress which is never adequately addressed.

Whenever legislators seek leaner budgets, services for children are usually first on the chopping block. Cuts are made to foster care on the federal level. When dollars are received by states, cuts are made to fit their budgets…then on to counties and cities… see where this is going?

Foster care children receive minimal health care benefits through Medicaid – a program that comes under fire… and suffers budget cuts regularly. Children with chronic and life-threatening conditions could wait weeks or months for treatment unless advocates intervene. A foster care child in need of psychiatric or even counseling services is put on a waiting list… and forgotten.

We must do better. We must stop allowing children in foster care to be treated like second-class citizens. We must stop blaming children for being in foster care. When Charles Loring Brace founded The Children’s Aid Society in the mid-19th century, he believed that there was a better way to change the futures of the 30,000 children living in the streets and alleys of New York City.

The focus is now nationwide and dealing with nearly half a million children, but the mission is still the same. However, children are not the future, they are the present. What we do for them today impacts their future… and ours.

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*Text bolded for emphasis by blogger.

Kicking off Foster Care Month, National Foster Care Day provides a platform to help repair a system that is plagued with shortages nationwide. Many enter care with little to no belongings and have suffered the effects of abuse, poverty, neglect or even the death of their loved ones. There is a nationwide shortage of foster parents and stipends that don’t cover the essentials of a growing child.

With over 400,000 children in the foster care system at any given time, and a new child placed into care every 2 minutes, the need for support services, essential items and foster parents is high. Foster children have an uphill battle with startling statistics to overcome and need the support of our communities across the country. National Foster Care Day shines a light on these children and points us all in the direction of solutions.

Statistics

  • 250,00 children enter foster care each year
  • Only 50% of youth in foster care graduate high school
  • Foster children suffer PTSD at more than twice the rate of US war veterans
  • 1 in 5 foster children experience homelessness within 1 year of aging out of care
  • At ages 17 & 18, one-third of young women in foster care are pregnant or parenting
  • More than 70% of inmates incarcerated were at one point in the foster care system
  • Stipends don’t cover the essentials of a growing child

How to Help

  • Volunteer to become a Court appointed special advocate (CASA) –  CASAs receive specialized training and represent the best interests of abused and neglected children.
  • Become a Foster Parent – Nationwide, there is a shortage of licensed foster homes.
  • Adopt a Foster Child – In the U.S., more than 100,000 children wait a family to call home.
  • Volunteer through non-profits like Project Blue, Ticket to Dream Foundation and many others that provide mentoring to foster children, require staffing assistance for events and many other opportunities!
  • Share this page – Increasing awareness and interest in the solutions will help foster children heal and grow to their full potential.

HOW TO OBSERVE

On National Foster Care Day, find out more about how you can make a difference by visiting www.tickettodream.org. Show your support for foster youth by wearing blue and post a picture on social media by using #FosterCareBlue.

Data from NationalDayCalendar.com and posted here for sharing purposes only.
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2 thoughts on “National Foster Care Day

  1. Thank you for sharing these important facts. It is valuable information and it makes people like me aware on what we can do or how can help even in small ways.

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