May is National Foster Care Month

May 11, 2023

National Foster Care Month is an initiative of the Children’s Bureau. Each May, let’s take the time to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. We use this time to renew your commitment to ensuring a bright future for the more than 391,000 children and youth in foster care, and recognize those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.

National Foster Care Month 2023 Children’s Bureau Message
from Aysha E. Schomburg, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau:

“National Foster Care Month 2023 Children’s Bureau Message
Aysha E. Schomburg, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau

National Foster Care Month is an important time to raise awareness on issues related to foster care and to celebrate those who are dedicated to serving our children, youth, and families. This year, the Children’s Bureau collaborated with parents, guardians, and young people with lived experience to develop its focus for the month. What we heard was that children and youth in foster care, and their caregivers, need us to focus on their mental well-being as diligently as we focus on their physical health and safety. This month, let us take a holistic and culturally responsive approach to embody this year’s theme, “Strengthening Minds, Uplifting Families.”

I recently had an opportunity to meet with young adults who were at various stages in their transition from foster care and overwhelmingly heard that strong mental health support was key to their success. They said the approach should be, trauma informed, individualized, and culturally responsive. An approach that is trauma informed and individualized will consider that each child in a single family may be impacted differently and any plan will be person-centered. Culturally responsive could mean treatment plans that include traditional, and non-Westernized traditional practices. Using a lens of compassion and cultural humility to understand the ways that culture can impact how a person approaches mental health is vital to being able to connect children, youth, and families to the services they need.

Recent research confirms the importance of mental health and wellness supports. Data shows increases in mental health challenges for older youth, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Young children can also face mental health challenges, which, if left untreated, can prevent a child from reaching their full potential. We cannot wait for mental health struggles to manifest before acting. The journey of exploring the mental health needs of children and families must begin early so that we may engage appropriate interventions sooner.

The experience of the pandemic these past few years has reminded us of the many ways our nation’s families demonstrate strengths. By drawing on those strengths, leaning on the support of extended family and friends, and connecting to local community resources families have demonstrated that they know how to manage difficult situations. We have a unique opportunity to be the added support when more is needed. I encourage you to explore the resources and stories within regarding what we can do to further strengthen families. Thank you.”