May is foster care awareness month, a special time to recognize the value of foster care and highlight the importance of foster parents, and the care and protection they provide to the children in the community. In 1988, the president instituted May as Foster Care Awareness Month. Due to his acknowledgement of the value in renewing our nation’s commitment to aiding the thousands of children in foster care, these children have a chance at bright futures while growing up in a safe home environment.
Shelby County Department of Job and Family Services, children services division, also believes it is important for children to be cared for in a safe and loving environment. During this season, we have to be intentional about taking the moments to acknowledge and celebrate the things that are important to us. Foster Care Awareness Month allows us to celebrate those who make a meaningful difference in children’s lives. One of the things that Shelby County JFS is so thankful for are our foster families and their love, support and stability they bring to children in foster care and to their families. We know that this year has been hard, but we also know that families can be successful and heal. The goal of foster care is to offer supports to strengthen families so they reunify, whenever safely possible. Foster families play a vital part in this process by offering support to biological families and a safe, loving temporary home to children in their care. These children are in need of a family to love, nurture and protect them. They come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have special needs, some are part of a sibling group, and many are older children or teenagers. Often the public is unaware of these children and their realities. National Foster Care Awareness Month provides organizations and our community with a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness.
Many people ask, what can we do during this fabulous day in May? Be aware … understand that there is always a need in our community for individuals and families to open their hearts and homes to children and teenagers who need that temporary safe place to stay. Also, be educated. Reach out to learn more about how you can be supportive to the children and families in Shelby County. These are our county’s children, moms and dads. Let Foster Care Awareness Month remind you that sometimes little people and big people need help, guidance and support to make it through a rough season. Together we can do that. Together we can strengthen a system to serve children and families, while also helping them become healthy and whole individuals.
If you would like to become more “AWARE,” or offer support or your home to a child, please contact Shelby County Department of Job and Family Services at 937-498-4981.
The writer is a foster care coordinator at the Shelby County Department of Job and Family Services.