Every May is National Foster Care Month. Currently, there are over 408,000 children in the foster care program, and the need for help is great and continues to increase every year.
A Brief History
National Foster Care Month began in 1988, and since then, every President of the United States has issued a proclamation about foster care, starting with President George Bush Sr. all the way to our current president. At the start of National Foster Care Month, the main purpose was to recognize everything foster parents had done for foster children in need.
Starting in the early 1990s, the main focus of National Foster Care Month was placed on those older children who were about to age out of the system. These children needed and still need support, as they were never adopted by forever families. From there, National Foster Care Month has morphed and grown into what it is today.
National Foster Care Month Today
The focus has now shifted to increasing awareness of those children in need and the needs of the foster care program in general. Some of the previous years' goals have included recruiting new foster parents and the adoption of older foster children and sibling sets. This year--2013--has a new, modern theme: "Supporting Youth in Transition," which is geared toward helping those aging out of the foster are system find permanency and make meaningful connections.
How to Participate
There are many ways to give back to your local foster care community and to participate in National Foster Care Month. There truly is something for everyone. Take a look at the list below and see if there's something you can do to promote National Foster Care Month and everything it stands for.
1. Become a Foster Parent - Your local foster care community is always looking for foster parents to open their homes to children in need. If you've ever considered becoming a foster parent, now's the time! Start the process today and become that stable support system that many foster children need.
2. Become a Mentor - Unfortunately, many children age out of the system every year without being placed in an adoptive home. These children who are now adults are out on their own with a support system and sometimes without job or life skills. Being a mentor means that you'll provide that post-foster support. It also means that you will teach foster children these important life skills they'll need to know, like grocery shopping, paying bills, creating resumes for their job search, and applying to college.
3. Spread the Word - One of the easiest ways to get involved with National Foster Care Month is to simply spread the word. And these days, it has never been easier. Update your social networking accounts--like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+--blogs, and your personal websites. Text or call your contacts about how they can help, too. If you have experience in or with foster care, share your story with the country. After all, the country could use a little more foster care awareness.
4. Volunteer - This month, there will be a lot or organizations going door-to-door or setting up booths at events in order to spread the word about National Foster Care Month. Volunteer your time and make a difference.
National Foster Care Month may have a different focus each year, but the main goal is always the same. Foster children need more help and assistance than they currently receive. The same goes for foster parents and the foster program, too. Every little bit helps, and you can do your share by simply updating your Facebook, passing our flyers, or even becoming a foster parent. It can begin with you.
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Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.