Achieving permanence for the nearly 400,000 children and youth in foster care can mean different things to different people. For some children and youth, permanence is found through family reunification or in the love and support of relatives, also known as kinship care. For others, permanence is achieved through adoption. Permanence means creating lifelong connections with caring adults who will be there through the transition from foster care to adulthood. This month is National Foster Care Month, a time to acknowledge the different roles we can all play in the permanence process.
"All children and youth—regardless of age—need and deserve permanent, loving families," said JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. "Collaboration among caseworkers, families, and other stakeholders is the foundation of quality child welfare practice and necessary to help children and youth achieve permanence."
The 2014 National Foster Care Month initiative theme, "Building Blocks Toward Permanent Families," highlights the fundamental practices in child welfare that are key to supporting permanence for children, youth, and families. The building blocks include:
The building blocks highlighted in the 2014 National Foster Care Month initiative emphasize the importance and effectiveness of these basic practice elements that are necessary for strengthening families and achieving well-being.
The website for the 2014 initiative features resources for youth, caregivers, and professionals with information about each building block. The Promote section of the website provides a variety of tools to help organizations, agencies, and individuals spread the word about National Foster Care month and the importance of helping children and youth achieve permanence. State-by-State foster care information, including State officials and agency websites, the Presidential Proclamation, and a statement from Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, also are available on the site.
Real-life stories from children and youth in foster care and formerly in foster care, families, child welfare professionals, and others involved in child welfare provide first-hand narratives about the impact of the fundamental building blocks of quality child welfare practice. A collection of digital stories centered on reunification, the primary case plan goal for most children and youth in foster care, is available on the Real-Life Stories webpage. Many of the videos highlight the role foster parents and other caregivers play in the reunification process.
Along with the Children's Bureau, National Foster Care Month is co-sponsored by its information service, Child Welfare Information Gateway, the National Association of State Foster Care Managers, the National Foster Parents Association, the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, the National Resource Center for Youth Development, and Voice for Adoption.
Resources, real-life and digital stories, and more are available on the National Foster Care Month initiative website.