May is National Foster Care Month. Every state in our country has children in foster care. They belong to all of us. Now is the time to show we care. Nationwide, there are 463,000 children in foster care. In the Alexandria Region alone, there is a critical need for certified foster families, where there are currently 393 children in Foster Care.
Child welfare issues arise in families of every race, ethnicity, culture and age group. A disproportionate percentage of youth in foster care are children of color, particularly African American and American Indian children. In addition, children of color in the child welfare system experience poorer outcomes. No matter their age or ethnicity, all youth in foster care need a meaningful connection to at least one caring adult who becomes a supportive and lasting presence in their lives. Without families or stable relationships, too many of these formerly neglected and/or abused children, and teens will end up facing life’s challenges all alone.
Research shows that young people who age out of foster care are far more likely than their peers in the general population to endure homelessness, poverty, compromised health, insufficient education, unemployment, incarceration, early pregnancy and parenthood. Children and youth in foster care are capable of overcoming the repercussions of previous neglect and/or abuse. Across the country, people just like you are raising their voices and engaging in efforts to educate federal and state public policy leaders on the issues facing children and families. They are serving as their foster parents, relative caregivers, mentors, advocates, social workers and volunteers. Thanks to these unsung heroes, many formerly abused or neglected children and teens will either reunite safely with their parents, be cared for by relatives, or be adopted by loving families.
If you would like to put your caring and compassion to work to make a real difference, consider becoming a foster/adoptive parent. The Department of Social Services encourages anyone interested in learning more about Foster Care or Adoption to attend an informational meeting either on Thursday, May 13th at 6:00pm, on Thursday, June 3rd at 6:00pm, or on Saturday, June 19th at 10:00am, at the State Office Building, located at 900 Murray Street in Alexandria. For more information about foster parenting or adoption, please call (318) 487-5921 or (800) 814-1585. You can also visit the DSS website online at www.dss.la.gov and click on “Foster a Child” or “Adopt a Child”.
No matter how much time you have to give, you have the power to do something positive that will change a lifetime for a young person in foster care.