Author: Catherine Vo, Guest Blogger
National Foster Care Month is May, just a few weeks away. To gear up, we are providing a few resources that provide information about foster care, and how you can help children in our community. Foster care (also known as out-of-home care) is a temporary service provided by states for children who are unable to live with their families. Children in foster care may live with relatives or with unrelated foster parents. Foster care can also refer to placement settings, such as group homes, residential care facilities, emergency shelters, and supervised independent living. The Children’s Bureau, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, offers updated statistics and facts, including information from this article by AdoptUSKids:
- Over 400,000 children are currently living in foster care in the United States.
- The average age of a child in foster care is over eight years old.
- Common reasons children and youth enter foster care are abuse, neglect, or abandonment by their parents or guardians.
- The median amount of time a child spends in foster care is about one year.
- More than half the children in foster care will be reunited with their parents or primary caregivers, and nearly one quarter will be adopted, many by their foster parents.
- Each year, approximately 20,000 youth will age out of the foster care system when they turn 18 or 21, or when they finish high school (depending upon the state in which they live). These children are at increased risk of poor educational outcomes, homelessness, and unemployment.
Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) expanded its programming to provide foster care for unaccompanied refugee minors (URM) in 1980. In 2015, our country experienced another wave of immigrant youth crossing the border to escape gang violence and death. Unaccompanied refugee foster care continues to be essential today, yet only a few agencies in the nation provide this specialized service. The number of unaccompanied and separated children applying for asylum in countries other than in the European Union increased from 4,000 in 2010 to 19,000 in 2015 (UNICEF, 2017b). These children have often experienced great trauma and are in need of a safe and caring home.
How Can You Help?
Interested in becoming a foster parent? To receive more information and start your application, fill out this form on our website. LSS/NCA is now training foster parents in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Our URM foster parent orientations occur once a month at the Washington, D.C. office.
Please also consider donating to the foster care program here to help fund school supplies, recruit new foster families, and provide sibling playdates for children in care.