May is National Foster Care Month, a time to acknowledge the youth, family members, foster parents, volunteers, child welfare professionals, and policymakers who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections.
During May, we renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for foster youth, and celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.
The "system" these youth enter through no fault of their own is only as good as the people who keep it going - social workers, Family Case Managers, CASA volunteers, elected officials, and foster parents. Each is part of a network of dedicated professionals and advocates who work 365 days a year, and for that they must be commended.
Investing in our children's future is an investment in the future of our communities, our state and our country.
Becoming a foster parent is not the only way to have a positive impact on a child in foster care. There are a myriad of ways to make a substantial difference - offering training on essential job skills, tutoring, serving as a mentor and, most importantly, by being a loving and comforting friend and confidant in a child's time of need.
I've seen success stories. I've seen kids who blossomed thanks to love and patience. I've seen lives turned around.
Sure, it doesn't always work out. Sometimes, the damage of abuse or neglect is very hard to undo. But even if we can’t make the difference that we wish to make, it's a great gift to give a child a home and respite, to let them know that there is good in the world and grownups can do the right thing. Sometimes, that makes a difference in ways you don't expect, in ways that show up later in their lives.
This Mother's Day, as we think about all that mothers give children, let's think about nurturing children who dream of having a permanent family. Think about opening up your home. Think about being a safe haven for a child.
If we want to make a real transformation, we must lead the way. National Foster Care Month makes everyone in our community aware of the hardships that many youth in foster care face and how they can make a difference.
We must also remind our neighbors that these children are the responsibility of us all. Their health and happiness is in our hands, and together, with assistance from our communities, we can provide the same care that we give to our loved ones. Not because we are required, but because it is the right thing to do.
During May, won't you consider opening your home and heart to a child in need? One of the lives you change may well be your own. We wish all of our children in foster care health and well-being. We wish them loving family and community connections. We wish them opportunity and a level playing field.
For information on becoming a foster parent, or to attend Campagna Academy’s Foster Care Conference on May 31, call Gloria at (219) 322-8614 or visit www.campagnaacademy.org.