National Foster Care Month 2024 Children's Bureau Message

National Foster Care Month (NFCM) in May is an important opportunity to spread the word about the needs of the more than 391,000 children and young people in foster care. This year's NFCM theme—"Engaging Youth. Building Supports. Strengthening Opportunities."—shines a light on how we can best support young people and help them successfully transition to adulthood. This theme mirrors one of the Children's Bureau's highest priorities: ensuring young people leave care with strengthened relationships, holistic supports, and opportunities.

Nearly 20,000 young people transition out of the foster care system each year without a permanent family. In talking with young people who have experienced the foster care system firsthand, I've heard consistently how challenging it is to transition out of foster care, especially without the appropriate support. Giving young people the resources they need to succeed as adults begins during their time in care. It is crucial that we use that time to engage young people in case planning, help them build and nurture important relationships, and gain equitable access to the opportunities that all young people deserve.

Holistic transition planning is one way we can ensure young people have the tools they need to succeed. Planning for the transition to adulthood is an important goal of case planning for all young people in foster care. Still, it sometimes falls short of preparing young people for the emotional, psychological, and developmental aspects of transitioning from care. Taking a holistic approach to these plans and starting conversations with young people about their future in their early teenage years—not a few months before they turn 18—can make a huge difference. Moreover, young people want to have lasting connections to the people in their lives who have shown up consistently for them, and we need to encourage and support this. In our conversations, young people have been clear that they know who is in their circle of family members, which may very well include people to whom they are not biologically related. We all know how much richer life can be when we have lasting bonds and lifelong connections.

This NFCM, we invite you to join us in raising awareness of the hundreds of thousands of children and young people in foster care and committing to doing more to support them. We encourage you to explore the resources and stories on the NFCM website and share them with your networks. As always, thank you for your ongoing commitment to serving children and young people.    

In unity,

Aysha E. Schomburg