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The goal of foster care is to provide a safe, stable, nurturing environment until a child is able to return home or until a permanent family is found for the child.

There are more than 400,000 children and youth in our nation's foster care system, and each year over 20,000 age out. As youth get ready to transition to adult life, they may face significant challenges in accessing the resources they need to become self-sufficient. Federal law requires that child welfare agencies assist youth in developing personalized transition plans that address specific topics such as education, housing, employment, finances, physical and mental health, health insurance, mentoring, and close relationships with supportive adults. A transition plan should start early and be broken into short-term, age-appropriate, and manageable goals in alignment with a youth's individual needs, hopes, and strengths.

Legal guardianship is one of the options available to parents who are planning for the care of their children in their absence due to a variety of situations, such as illness or incarceration. It allows parents to name a caregiver and to give the caregiver certain legal rights regarding the care of the child(ren). In most cases, the parents’ legal rights are not terminated and the parents still play a role in their children’s lives. As the legal guardian, you would have custody of the children, and you would have the authority to make decisions concerning the protection, education, care, discipline, etc.

Only the court has the power to modify child custody arrangements to meet the needs of the child and to respond to changes in the parents’ lives due to illness, a job change, etc.

Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), links to online publications created by State agencies to describe their services and to provide guidance on child welfare-related topics.

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize that we can each play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.

Custody and visitation orders are handled by the courts and enforceable by State law. If your visitation order was violated, you may wish to consult with and/or obtain the services of an attorney who is knowledgeable in family law matters in the applicable State. Your attorney should be able to help you explore your legal options and/or provide guidance on how to file a motion for contempt of court.

Group homes are residences intended to serve as an alternative to family foster homes.Homes normally house 4 to 12 children in a setting that offers the potential for the full use of community resources, including employment, health care, education, and recreational opportunities.

Concerns for the welfare of a child's safety and well-being should be reported to the child welfare agency in the state/county where the alleged maltreatment may be occurring. Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children's Bureau, maintains a state-specific listing of child abuse and neglect reporting numbers Visit disclaimer page .