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May 2006Vol. 7, No. 4Change a Lifetime During National Foster Care Month

National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to recognize the 170,000 families across the nation who provide homes and care for the more than 500,000 children whose parents cannot care for them. With the slogan, "Change a Lifetime," the Foster Care Month sponsoring organizations hope to bring national attention to foster families as well as to the many ongoing opportunities for helping children in foster care.

The National Foster Care Month partnership offers materials to help groups and individuals participate in the campaign. Factsheets, toolkits, and a media kit are available on their website. The site lists 21 specific opportunities for "sharing your heart, opening your home, and offering your help"; some of these include mentoring a child, helping a teen transition to adulthood, providing respite care, and becoming a court-appointed legal advocate.

The latest statistics on foster care in the United States are also posted on the website. They show:

  • On September 30, 2004, 518,000 children were in foster care.
  • The average amount of time these children had been in the system was 30 months.
  • Their average age was 10.1 years.
  • In 2004, 24 percent of youth in foster care were living with relatives (kinship care).
  • Of those who were adopted from foster care in 2004, 59 percent were adopted by their foster parents, and another 24 percent were adopted by relatives.
  • Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people age out of the foster care system.

National Foster Care Month is a joint effort of Casey Family Programs; Annie E. Casey Foundation/Casey Family Services; Black Administrators in Child Welfare; Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Child Welfare League of America; Connect for Kids; Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative; APHSA/National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators; National Association of Social Workers; National CASA; National Foster Care Coalition; National Foster Parent Association; and the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning at the Hunter College School of Social Work, a service of the Children's Bureau.

To find out more about National Foster Care Month, visit: