May is National Foster Care Month, a month set aside to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, community members, child welfare professionals, and policymakers who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. This year's focus, Achieving Well-Being With Children and Youth in Care, provides resources to support child welfare professionals as they seek to build well-being postpermanency; with transitioning youth; through support in sibling connections; through support in school & community; and through trauma-informed child welfare systems. During National Foster Care Month, we renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for the more than 400,000 children and youth in foster care, and we celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.
History of the Children's Bureau and Foster Care
Throughout its 100-year history, the Children's Bureau has worked to assist children and youth in foster care; engage youth in decisions that affect their lives; and support foster families, kinship caregivers, child welfare professionals, and others who help these children.
Before the creation of the Children's Bureau in 1912, child welfare and foster care were mainly in the hands of private and religious organizations.
In 1919, the Children's Bureau published Minimum Standards of Child Welfare, which affirmed the importance of keeping children in their own homes whenever possible and, when that was impossible, providing a "home life" with foster families.
In 1923, the Children's Bureau published Foster-Home Care for Dependent Children, an acknowledgment of the growing preference for foster family care over institutional care.
During World War II, when more than 8,000 children were evacuated from Europe to the United States, the Children's Bureau oversaw their temporary placement in U.S. foster homes.
The Children's Bureau published a draft list of "The Rights of Foster Parents" in the May 1970 issue of its journal Children. That same year, the Children's Bureau sponsored the National Conference of Foster Parents.
In 1972, the Children's Bureau sponsored—and President Nixon proclaimed—National Action for Foster Children Week to raise awareness of the needs of children in foster care and recruit more foster parents. The following year, Children published "The Bill of Rights for Foster Children."
In 1988, President Reagan issued the first presidential proclamation that established May as National Foster Care Month.
National Foster Care Month Today
Today, the Children's Bureau, together with Child Welfare Information Gateway and the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, supports National Foster Care Month through a dedicated web section for child welfare professionals and as a partner in the national "Change a Lifetime" campaign sponsored by the National Foster Care Month initiative. A proclamation from the President each year supports the Children's Bureau in this effort by recognizing the work of foster families, social workers, faith-based and community organizations, and others that are improving the lives of young people in foster care across the country and by encouraging all Americans to participate in efforts to serve these children throughout the year.