"The family is the indispensable foundation of society; at its best, it performs tasks that no other entity can hope to duplicate. The family has the primary responsibility for nurturing children, transmitting our culture, and building the character traits that make for healthy adults and good citizens. Upon the strength of the family rests the future of our Nation."-President Ronald Reagan
Since 1988, National Foster Care Month has been an anchor organizations all over the nation have used to make their voices heard. Nonprofits' efforts focus on the pressures facing families today and on the need to ensure that abandoned or abused children have the opportunity to live in healthy, loving homes.
President Reagan was not only talking to nonprofit organizations and established government entities when he signed the proclamation in the late 80's, he also called upon "all educators, churches, health care providers, the media, public and private organizations, and the people of the United States to observe this month."
Currently, it's estimated that over 440,000 children are in foster care, according to the Children's Bureau. Every year, over 17,000 children age out of the foster system without a chance at permanence, which means foster children are reaching the age of eighteen, no longer wards of the state, and are out on their own. With no familial support, resources, or simple job and life skills, their chances of experiencing homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults are much higher.
To further show the growing need for familial support, take a look at some information pulled from the most recent Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- On average, children remain in state care for nearly two years and 6 percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years.
- Despite the common perception that the majority of children in foster care are very young, the average age of kids entering care is 8.
- In 2018, one third of children entering U.S. foster care were young people of color.
- While most children in foster care live in family settings, a substantial minority, 10 percent, live in institutions or group homes.
- In 2018, more than 71,000 children whose mothers' and fathers' parental rights had been legally terminated were waiting to be adopted.
- While states should work rapidly to find safe permanent homes for kids, on any given day children available for adoption have spent an average of about one and a half years waiting to be adopted since their parental rights were terminated.
The theme for National Foster Care Month is Foster Care as a Support to Families, Not a Substitute for Parents. Fittingly, one organization in Texas is ahead of the curve and implementing this school of thought into their everyday programs and interactions.
Austin Angels, established in 2009 by CEO Susan Ramirez, walks alongside their children in the foster care system, offering consistent support to the caretakers as well. Addressing intentional giving, relationship building and mentorship, Susan and her team meet the real needs of the removed child and their entire family. See more of Susan's successful fundraising tactics:
Intentional giving allows donations and resources to be used in a more thoughtful, less wasteful way. Through in-kind donations, Austin Angels have found ways to make sure their donors' gifts serve a greater purpose. Their second pillar for success is connection through relationship building. Although it requires devoted time and energy, this way of interaction ultimately fosters healing for all parties involved. Austin Angels mentorship program equips and empowers the children in their programs to be prepared for adult living and to reach their fullest potential.
"Not everyone is called to foster, and not everyone is called to adopt, but anyone can make a difference in a child's life," Susan said.
From our RightGift family, thank you to the foster parents and professionals working the field of foster care for your patience and enduring love even when the days are hard. You help support the foundation of all of our futures.