Daniel, a therapeutic foster care case manager, is constantly surprised by the resiliency and empathy demonstrated by resource families, which includes foster, adoptive, and kinship caregivers. Daniel described a foster parent support meeting he facilitates: “Every meeting, tears turn to laughter and sorrow gives way to hope as the foster parents hold each other up in a way that only another foster parent can.”
Compassionate and well-trained foster parents are essential to providing children and youth in the child welfare system with safe and stable homes. In 2015, there were 428,000 children in foster care.
To honor the resource families that care for these children, the Children’s Bureau chose “Empowering Caregivers, Strengthening Families” as the theme of National Foster Care Month 2017. Foster parents, when they have solid support and access to resources, can positively impact the lives of the children they care for in powerful and far-reaching ways.
When describing foster parenting, Daniel said, “It is nothing less than the act of a hero.”
Lucy and Melvin are two of those heroic foster parents. Lucy’s foster son wanted to play the piano, so Lucy worked with a community-based organization in Georgia that supports children in foster care with specialized needs to arrange lessons. “He is doing very well, learning how to read music. He is thrilled. He likes to dress up in a bow tie and dress shirt for every class” Lucy said. “My hope is for his wish to come true: one day to become a pianist.” Lucy’s knowledge of the services available enabled her to connect her foster child to the resources he needs to thrive.
Melvin is a therapeutic foster parent. “Therapeutic foster children have experienced more trauma. They have been hospitalized and [have] extreme mental health issues,” Melvin said. Though therapeutic foster placements are challenging, Melvin says that he believes it is his duty to provide support and guidance to help children thrive. “Once the child becomes adjusted and comfortable in their surroundings, you begin to see a different child.”
Foster parents like Lucy and Melvin are heroes, but even heroes need help. National Foster Care Month is devoted to enabling foster parents like Lucy and Melvin to serve and support children in the child welfare system. We’re committed to offering resources to child welfare professionals, foster parents, and kinship caregivers so they can help the children in their care