About National Foster Care Month
National Foster Care Month is an initiative of the Children's Bureau. Each May, we take 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.
In this section, find information about the National Foster Care Month initiative, including information about the Children's Bureau's commitment to prioritizing foster care as a service to families, and how a holistic approach to mental health care can support permanency and help youth leave care with strengthened minds, holistic supports, and stable families.
Together with its information service, Child Welfare Information Gateway, and a host of other Federal, State, and local partners, the Children’s Bureau builds awareness for National Foster Care Month through a dedicated website that includes resources, stories, and outreach tools to help you spread awareness at the State and local levels. Read the Children’s Bureau message to learn more about the agency’s commitment to prioritizing mental health as an essential component of overall health and well-being and its commitment to lifting conversations with children, youth, and their caregivers about their mental health needs while they are engaged with foster care.
Resources on the National Foster Care Month website emphasize ways in which child welfare professionals can lift conversations about mental health into everyday case planning and demonstrate the impact that traditional therapeutic services, nontraditional mentoring and peer support services, and appropriate caregiver supports can have on children and youth’s resilience and long-term well-being. Resources touch on the unique opportunity of child welfare professionals to match children and youth with appropriate mental health supports that fit their individualized life experiences and features information about Children’s Bureau-funded projects doing work to integrate mental health supports into everyday practice and improve well-being outcomes for children, youth, and families. View the resources.
Each year, the National Foster Care Month website features stories from families, youth, and caseworkers in which they share their experiences with foster care. These inspiring narratives and videos are a powerful way to connect people's experiences with foster care to important practice issues and can be used as a tool for training new child welfare professionals, recruiting and training foster parents, and enhancing State and local media and awareness campaigns for National Foster Care Month. View the stories.
There are a number of tools in the Raise Awareness section you can use to help spread the word about National Foster Care Month, including the following:
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 for visiting the National Foster Care Month website.
Aysha E. Schomburg
Children's Bureau Partners
Each year, the Children's Bureau, together with Child Welfare Information Gateway, partners with thought leaders, advocates, and ambassadors from select Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies and organizations connected to foster care to plan and develop the National Foster Care Month campaign.