Updated: May 2, 2019
During the month of May, people across the country celebrate National Foster Care Month by acknowledging foster parents and others in the community who make a difference in the lives of foster children.
The 2019 theme “Foster Care as a Support to Families, Not a Substitute for Parents” highlights partnerships that increase successful reunification.
Although National Foster Care Month wasn’t established until 1988 by President Reagan, foster care and child welfare programs began in the early 1900’s by private and religious organizations.
There are approximately 6,000 children in foster care in Alabama alone and over 437,000 foster children nationwide. A child is removed from their parent or primary caregiver every two minutes in the US and the #1 cause is neglect. Children often move from one foster home to another an average of 4-6 times and will spend an average of 28 months in the system.
According to https://kinshiphouse.org/the-statistics, on average:
1 in 5 foster children will be homeless within 1 year of aging out of the welfare system
Less than 3% will earn a college degree
More than 25% will have post-traumatic stress disorder
More than 70% of females are pregnant by 21 years of age
Foster children are 63 times more likely to be incarcerated
16% of children re-enter the foster care system
If you are interested in being a foster parent contact your local DHR or agency to ask about getting started. However, being a foster parent or child welfare worker are NOT the only ways you can help! Here are some ideas of ways you can get involved:
Pray for our children to find healing, hope, and the confidence to become who God created them to be. Pray that our biological and foster families walk through their journey with grace, love, and compassion. Pray for discernment and wisdom for the professionals who are making life-altering decisions for our children and families.
Support and Volunteer
Fostering a child is a family ministry and can pose challenges for the families who are opening their homes. You can support foster families in big and small ways. Some ideas of ways to help could be:
taking a home cooked meal
offering to mow their lawn
sending an encouraging note
giving restaurant gift cards or gas cards
taking a family game, movie, popcorn, and candy
There are unlimited options of ways you can show your support and care. You can also volunteer your time with local foster care agencies or programs.
Educate and Advocate
Children in foster care are vulnerable and do not always have a voice. You can educate yourself on current issues in foster care by talking to foster parents, DHR staff, former foster children, and lawmakers. Then you can use your voice to advocate for those who cannot.
It is our community's responsibility to ensure that children are in a home where they feel safe, loved, and accepted. The donations you make can help provide safety and healing for children from hard places and impacts a child's future.
We encourage everyone to find a way to get involved because AGAPE believes that if there is a cause worth fighting for it is this: children belong in families!