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May 2021Vol. 22, No. 5May Is National Foster Care Month

This year's National Foster Care Month (NFCM) theme, "Foster Care as a Support to Families, Not a Substitute for Parents," highlights the ways the child welfare system and the legal community can authentically engage youth in permanency planning and support the development of meaningful connections to promote a child welfare system that truly strengthens families. This includes information about how all professionals involved with child welfare can authentically engage youth in court and a look at how strong connections with family, friends, and child welfare professionals—and the use of virtual tools in recent months—can be supportive factors for youth aging out of care and help youth maintain connectedness.

As in past years, the NFCM website is dedicated to offering an array of resources and tools aimed at addressing the unique needs of children in foster care; improving placement stability; and strengthening relationships between birth families, children and youth in foster care, and child welfare agencies.

The NFCM 2021 website features the following:

  • A message from Taffy Compain, the national foster care specialist at the Children's Bureau 
  • The Reflections: Stories of Foster Care series, which features narrative stories from caseworkers, youth, and families about their experiences with foster care
  • A new Take Action section (scroll to the bottom of the page) that provides access to state and local proclamations, explores NFCM events happening around the country, and highlights examples of how some child welfare agencies are helping foster care act as a support to families
  • New resources that support this year's theme as well as reflect the past year's challenges

This year's website also includes a host of enhanced web features and resources for the field as well as outreach tools for individuals and organizations to use to help spread awareness at the state and local levels and to amplify a unified campaign message across new audiences. 

On Thursday, May 20, 2021, from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, the Children's Bureau, in partnership with the Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative and Child Welfare Information Gateway, will host a virtual event, "Stories From the Field: Practical Strategies for Engaging Young People," to highlight how the child welfare system can actively support families. Participants will hear how child welfare agencies are using strategies from the Administration for Children and Families Information Memorandum on youth and family engagement to support planning and improvement efforts; examine strategies to support meaningful youth engagement at the individual and practice level, the peer-to peer-mentoring level, and the system level; and learn how shifting to a mindset of meaningful youth engagement can alter agency culture to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families.