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History of National Foster Care Month

Throughout its more than 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 its partners, supports National Foster Care Month through a website developed by Child Welfare Information Gateway, its information service. A yearly proclamation from the President recognizes 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 encourages all Americans to participate in efforts to serve these children throughout the year.

Celebrate Children and Youth All Year Long

In addition to National Foster Care Month in May, the Children's Bureau also supports National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April and National Adoption Month in November. Find a wealth of information on both of these initiatives on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website.

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