May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. This awareness month is less known and celebrated compared to others. With 5 ways to honor foster youth this month, we can begin to change that!
Remember the Future
It’s important we celebrate and find caring ways to honor National Foster Care Awareness month because these youth are our future. When we honor them, we not only contribute to the betterment of their lives, we invest in the country’s better future.
250,000 youth enter foster care each year and, currently there is 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, according to the most recent federal data. These minors face a slew of horrific statistics with a few being:
- Foster youth are 2 times as likely to suffer from PTSD as US War Veterans
- Between 40% and 50% of foster youth transitioning into adulthood will become homeless within 18 months of emancipation
- 70% of girls who age out of foster care will be pregnant by age 21
Let us remember May as a way to help our future and better the lives of these, often forgotten, children in our society.
Honor the Future, Change a Life
Now, that we know why it’s so important we take action for and celebrate National Foster Care Awareness Month the caring way, what can we do?
The short answer is anything! The more detailed answer is you can do varies activities ranging from year-long commitments to few hour commitments, to time donations, to in kind and monetary donations. Here are the top 5 ways to honor these vulnerable youth:
- Become a CASA
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) advocates for a foster child within the court system and makes sure their voice is heard
- This is one of the most time-consuming commitments
- Commitment time will vary depending on case
- Become a Mentor
- Foster Care mentorship programs can be found at many foster care organizations in the Nation
- Time commitment is usually a 1 year minimum
- Volunteers spend 1 on 1 time with the youth at least once a month
- Donate or fund-raise
- Fundraisers are easy to do on social media and can be created in minutes
- Donations of time to foster care organizations
- Donations of essential items to group homes
- Monetary donations
- Become a Respite volunteer
- Respite volunteers babysit foster children to provide respite for foster families
- Time commitment can be as little or as many hours a month we are willing to give
- Requires a training and fingerprint clearance card to work with minors
- Spread Awareness
- Word of mouth is still the most powerful way to spread a message
- Talk about it all month long
- Spread awareness on social media
It’s very easy to find ways to help foster youth through Unified Caring Association’s Volunteer Network. Members have quick access to over 200 immediate need volunteer projects or requests. Here some hand-picked examples:
Remote-Online Advocates for Children! – Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
One-on-One Virtual Tutoring – virtual volunteering
Craft Kits for Kids Needed – virtual volunteering
For More Information to Learn & Share
AdoptUSKids is a national project that supports child welfare systems and connects children in foster care with families.
All children deserve the opportunity to learn, grow and reach their full potential. For over 35 years, Specialized Alternatives for Families & Youth (SAFY) has worked to do just that.
Foster Focus is the nation’s only monthly magazine devoted to Foster Care.
Don’t forget to research more ways and opportunities to give back to the foster care community. It’s how we can make an impact the entire month of May.
By Mona Nyree Stephens, contributing author
We invite you to discover inspiring and effective ways to care for yourself and to serve others. Now more than ever, caring is what we all need most. Caring for our self. Caring for others around us. Life now demands caring, resilience and compassion like never before. So, become a Custodian of the Caring Movement and help create the world we need right now, the world we want for our future generations.