In 1988 the National Foster Parent Association persuaded Senator Strom Thurmond to bring forth a resolution to proclaim May as National Foster Care Month. It has since grown into a partnership of 14 national organizations working together to spread awareness, give recognition, and encourage others to get involved in the lives of the American youth in foster care.
1-800-Charity Cars, a national non-profit that has provided thousands of vehicle donations to struggling families across the United States, would like to help recognize Foster Care Awareness Month by providing you with the following information.
Let us take a look at the reasons why the majority of these children end up in the foster care system. This will help us to understand the plight of the foster care system workers and their goals to help change the lives of the youth in their care. While there are many varying reasons why children could end up in foster care, here are a few of the main reasons that children are placed in the system:
Foster Care Statistics
- The number one reason (which child welfare reporting agencies have shown a startling rate of 70%) that children are in the foster care system is due to abuse and neglect. Many children are abused physically, sexually, and/or emotionally. These children are often removed from their homes by authorities. Children are also neglected in many areas such as food, clothing, housing, education, and even medical needs. Many of these children have parents who suffer from some type of mental illness and/or their parents suffer from substance abuse issues.
- Incarceration is also a major reason that children end up in the foster care system. When one or both parents become incarcerated and there’s no one available to care for them, the state will place the children into foster care.
- Abandonment is another reason children end up in foster care. Sadly, there have been many children left at a sitter or daycare and the parent does not return to get them. In some situations, parents have left their children at other various places, including tragic cases of leaving their children in dumpsters/trash cans. By 2008, all 50 States had adopted Safe Haven Laws. These laws decriminalized the abandonment of a child to help prevent harm to the children that parents are unable to raise for whatever reason. Since this law went into effect there are fewer cases of abandonment in such tragic ways.
- Voluntary placement of a child into foster care is one of the most rare occurrences. While it is deemed the least traumatic transition, it is also seen as one of the saddest. Some parents are incapable of raising a child and must make the difficult decision to place their children into the foster care system. Sometimes a parent is faced with unemployment and can no longer provide for their children. They may be faced with eviction and homelessness. These parents sometimes elect to place their children in the system so that they can get the care they need. Not only is this a painful choice to make because of being separated from their child, but parents who do so also face judgment from the people who surround them. It is a heart-wrenching choice, but parents who elect to voluntarily place their children when faced with these circumstances have often made the wisest choice for the well being of their children.
- It is not always the result of a parent’s behaviors, failures, or choices that lead their children into the foster care system. There are also times in which a child’s own choices can be cause for them to end up in the system. Children who elect to runaway, violating school truancy laws, and habitual juvenile offenders can end up in the foster care system through their own choices and behaviors.
Foster Care Awareness Month is a time to get involved. If you can become a foster parent, please consider doing so. Although not every person is able to take in children and provide them a foster home, there are many other ways people can help to make a difference in their lives. Below is a list of ways you can help:
Help promote the cause by sharing information with others. You can do this by either starting meaningful conversations with those in your life or utilizing social networks as a platform to get the word out about the foster care system and the children in need of loving homes.
OFFER A HELPING HAND
If you know of any foster families in your community just the simple act of a helping hand can mean a great deal to them. Foster parents have their hands full with legal obligations as well as familial duties. Offering to step in and help will really help to ease their load. You can offer to babysit, bring over a casserole one night a week, help with household chores or even cut their grass.
GET INVOLVED WITH FOSTER CARE TO SUCCESS (FC2S) PROGRAM
Be sure to check out the Foster Care 2 Success program and get involved in any way that you can. The program offers a few different things, such as: mentors, tutoring, student care packages, and the red scarf project . Be sure to visit the website http://www.fc2success.org/our-programs for detailed information on the programs and ways you can help.
BECOME A RESPITE CARE PROVIDER
While some people can not take on the responsibility of being a full time foster parent, some can step in and help by becoming a respite care provider. Respite care providers just provide temporary care for foster children. You can choose how many and how often you will offer your care. Just let your local foster care agency know you are interested in becoming a respite care provider.
BUY A TANGLED HEART NECKLACE
You can show your support for the foster care system by purchasing, gifting or wearing the tangled heart necklace. All net proceeds go to scholarships for children from the foster care system. You can visit the site at this link http://www.bongiornobooks.com/tangledhearts/default.htm
MAKE A DONATION
Outside of financial donations you can also donate clothing, shoes, and suitcases/bags to help out the children in the foster care system. Many come into the system having very little or nothing to their name. Their possessions are often carried in trash bags. By donating shoes, clothing, and suitcases/bags you help these children to have basic necessities. Since many foster children move around a lot in the system, the suitcases/bags will help them to carry their items. Just contact your local foster care agency to find out where to take your donations.
This month is also meant to recognize and celebrate those who step up and take in these children and make a lasting impression in their lives. No matter the reason that a child ends up in the foster care system, they are in need of love, support and guidance. It is through the kindness of others that so many of these children end up in loving foster homes with surrogate parents who provide them the nurturing they need. 1-800 Charity Cars would like to express our gratitude to every foster parent across the nation who provides these children with all they need while they await adoptive parents. We would also like to express our thanks to those foster parents who eventually become adoptive parents of these children.
We hope that everyone will take this month to spread awareness, get involved, and show recognition to those who volunteer, donate, or take on the role of fostering. Every effort made can have a life long impact and make a difference in the lives of the children in the foster care system.
We realize that not everyone is able to take on the role of a foster parent. Don’t forget that there are plenty of animals who also need a loving home. If you are interested in fostering a pet, check out our article: A Basic Guide For Fostering A Pet.