Each May, National Foster Care Month provides us a special opportunity to focus on the nation’s more than 400,000 children and youth in the foster care system. It is a time for us to raise awareness about the urgent needs of these young people and encourage all Americans to get involved – as foster or adoptive parents, volunteers, mentors, employers or in other ways. With the help of more Americans, many formerly abused or neglected children and teens will be able to reunite safely with their parents, be cared for by relatives or be adopted by loving families.
Thanks to the efforts of many advocates, child welfare professionals, elected officials and support groups around the country, the number of children in foster care has decreased in recent years, but more help is needed to ensure that these children have access to interventions that help them heal and continue to support them into young adulthood.
Through the Administration for Children and Families, the Department of Health and Human Services is delivering effective interventions that promote social and emotional well-being for children in foster care through our discretionary and mandatory funding programs. Here are a few examples:
- The Children’s Bureau is supporting five grantees who are working to deliver evidence-based treatments designed to address the specific impacts of maltreatment trauma and improve outcomes for the children.
- Another program is helping young people develop skills to strengthen relations with relatives and other adults and productively manage relationship difficulties so they can succeed at home, in school, at work and in the community.
- We have also targeted $4.3 million to programs that help children in foster care stay in their school and decrease the number of times they change schools, as well as projects that enroll very young children in early education programs. At a time of difficult family upheaval, we want to help children find stability at school.
Throughout the nation, people are serving as foster parents, relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, social workers and volunteers. No matter how much time you have to give, you can help create lifelong connections for these children. Whether you have a few minutes to show your support by wearing a blue ribbon or a lifetime to share, you can make a difference for our nation’s vulnerable children.
In recognition of National Foster Care Month, I urge you to join us in making that difference.
Learn more about National Foster Care Month at http://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/.
For more ideas on how you can get involved, visit www.fostercaremonth.org.
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services