Do you ever think about kids in foster care? I know I never really did until three things changed in my life. I became an orphan advocacy blogger, foster care worker, and Junior League volunteer – in that order. When I joined the Junior League of Dayton last year, I was so happy to learn that foster care had been deemed the focus issue for the next 3-5 years. By that time my eyes had been opened and it had become an issue very close to my heart. That very reason is also why I wanted to go deeper to explore a bit about foster care – along with a few other bloggers who have also written about this topic(there is a link-up at the bottom of this post for blog posts on any foster-care related topic which will be open for the entire month of May!)

Most of us don’t think nearly often enough about the real live kids in foster care with fragile, human hearts who live their days carrying the weight of uncertainty. Since May is National Foster Care Month, now is as good a time as any to take the time to recognize the role each of us plays in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.

In the words of the White House Foster Care Month Presidential Proclamation, “This month, and all year long, let us all recognize that each of us has a part to play in ensuring America’s foster children achieve their full potential. Together, we can reach the day where every child has a safe, loving, and permanent home. Every child deserves to grow, learn, and dream in a supportive and loving environment. During National Foster Care Month, we recognize the almost 400,000 young people in foster care and the foster parents and dedicated professionals who are in their lives. We also rededicate every child a sense of stability and a safe place to call home.”

“Imagine growing up in the foster care system and being moved so many times you’ve lost track. Was it 12? 22? 34? Then imagine being among the elite three percent who make it to college, only to realize that during school holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, you are homeless. Even when the dorm remains open, there is rarely enough money for food once the cafeterias close.” Source: Collegiate Foster Kids Need Homes For School Breaks

Here in Dayton, at Wright State University, there is a program that is one of only two in the country. It is a support and mentoring program which supports former foster youth who are attending college at WSU. Imagine aging out at 18 and showing up at college with nothing but your few personal belongings and no family?” Source: Kathy Barrenbrugge

Get inspired during National Foster Care Month 2014! View real-life stories about children, youth, and families involved with child welfare. Share the narratives and videos with your friends, family, and coworkers:
Foster Care Month – Real Life Stories

Interested in further reading?

Check out: The Casey Foundation.  Casey Family Programs provides and improves – and ultimately prevents the need for – foster care.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, is based right here in Ohio. Their main focus is dispelling the myth that kids are “unadoptable”, and getting kids out of foster care into loving homes. Check out Dave Thomas Foundation to learn more
Find resources and information about supporting permanence for families on the 2014 National Foster Care Month website: Foster Care Month

Ohio REACH, which is dedicated to improving post-secondary outcomes for foster care youth and alumni through advocacy, leadership, networking and empowerment:
Ohio Reach

For great statistics and more on outcomes for former foster care youths who were studied into adulthood:
Policy Research That Benefits Children, Families, and Communities

Want to know how you can help?
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and is followed in May by National Foster Care Month. Take these opportunities to call your U.S. representative or senator, speak with your state representatives or write a letter to your governor to urge them to focus on the foster care system to make the health, safety and welfare of children in their states an uncompromised priority.”
CNN On Foster Care

Learn more about legislation affecting foster youth! Ohio House Bill 423, would extend the financial support of foster youth from the current age of 18 to the age of 21, and would open up state funding to match the federal funds that have been available since 2009. Visit Ohio Fostering Connections website where you can sign a petition for this extension!

Also, if you are a blogger, please feel free to link up your foster care related posts to spread awareness and promote recognition for the deserving kids in foster care all over this country. Thanks y’all!

Big thanks & mad love to Kathy Barrenbrugge and Missy Mae Walters for collaborating on this post!