The month of May is way more than just the final stretch of traditional schools, the beginning of summer, and amazing weather! Why? May is a month dedicated to raising awareness to a larger and increasingly more prevalent topic: foster care. Yes, that’s right, May is National Foster Care Month!
Before we dive into the details of foster care, I think it is important to understand what exactly the support foster care provides. According to the Children’s Home Society of NC, foster care is a resource for children who need placement outside of their home.
As the Child Welfare Information Gateway says, foster care is
as support to families, not a substitute for parents.
This could be short-term or long-term, depending on the reason for the child’s outside placement. Some families may be experiencing a crisis situation, where it is deemed in the child’s best interest to have a short term placement, while others are placed for the more commonly associated reasons of abuse and neglect. Children, representing all cultures and socio-economic status, ages 0-18 can be placed and it can be for a variety of reasons including to meet their physical, mental, or emotional needs. Right here, in North Carolina, over 10,000 children were in the foster care system in 2015, and the average time spent in foster care was 19 months- over a year and a half. It’s important to recognize that this data is about 4 years old and I can only assume that these numbers have not decreased drastically.
As I was researching how our community in Wake County has responded to Foster Care, I came across an organization that has dedicated their entire program to helping children who are aging out of the foster care system. The Hope Center at Pullen has a mission to “connect youth aging out of foster care in Wake County with the resources and support they need for a successful transition to adulthood.” They do this by connecting youth (ages 13-21), with a history of foster care, to resources such as: academic mentors, tutoring, job applications, a workspace with computers, access to health and hygiene products, meals, community referrals, and even paid summer internships! They also offer transition services for older youth, where they provide assistance with parenting skills, housing, and basic life skills. The work they’ve done is nothing short of inspiring and their impact on our community has been huge!
Needless to say, it takes a village to raise our children. ALL children. So this National Foster Care Month, let’s take some time to thank those who are making a difference in the lives of our community. To every parent, foster parent, caseworker, social worker, school counselor, teacher, volunteer, or other community member who dedicates their life to helping our children…THANK YOU!
For more information about becoming a foster parent, visit NCDHHS.
For more information about how you can help the mission to eliminate Abuse and Neglect in Wake County, visit SAFEChild.