National Foster Care Month
This May, as we observe the emergence of spring, let’s also acknowledge that May is National Foster Care Month. This is the time to increase awareness and to uplift foster youth, families, and professionals. To understand that amid challenge, there are individuals and institutions committed to ensuring that children in foster care can secure permanency and that they can thrive.
In Minnesota, on any day in 2020, there were approximately 8,600 youth in foster care. Roughly 28% were 3 years of age or younger with 64% residing in greater Minnesota. American Indian children were 16 times more likely than their white counterparts to experience out of home care; children of two or more races 7 times more likely, and African American children twice as likely.
Evidence shows that relational permanency improves child well-being. That kinship relationships (related by blood, marriage, or those with close emotional relationships – like family) provide higher levels of permanency, decreased behavior problems, and provide improved stability.
Acknowledging and understanding challenge is a portion of awareness. Highlighting individuals and institutions working to improve quality of life, achieving progress within the foster care system establishes hope.
A couple of items that we are excited about and hopeful for include the Fostering Independence Higher Education Grant, available to Minnesota residents who were in the MN foster care system after their 13th birthday and under the age of 27. This grant supplements students financial aid providing “last dollar” financial aid support throughout the state of Minnesota. Also joy triggering is the passing of MN HF3845/SF4209 to establish a Foster Youth Ombudsperson in 2024 . Listening to the MN representatives share their personal experiences and support surrounding our foster care system acknowledges that foster care in Minnesota is not an “other” system, it is an everyone system.
Now, as you know more, I am sure you are asking, “What can I do? How can I support”? If you know foster parents or professionals serving foster families, you can ask them if and how they want to be supported. You can volunteer at local organizations that support foster families, gifting your time and resources. You can also become a foster parent.
– Sheri Hixon, Program Officer