National Foster Care Month is a time when we recognize all of the families, professionals, volunteers, and child welfare practitioners who support children and families involved in the foster care system and the work they do to find children a forever home.
With over 423,000 children and youth in the foster care system in the United States, it is important to emphasize this year’s focus on how the foster care system can serve as a support and strengthen families. Foster care should always be a last resort and temporary, serving as a support system for vulnerable families in need – never a substitute for parents.
Partnership is a key component of the successful reunification of children with their families and communities. This begins with an authentic partnership with families who are involved in the child welfare system. We must also ensure we are encouraging true collaboration with all involved in the child’s life – including practitioners, resource families, the legal community, volunteers, mentors, mental health professionals, and educators.
This is especially true with how our families engage juvenile and family courts. Child welfare practitioners and legal professionals can work in partnership to ensure that families and youth have meaningful involvement in their case planning and court proceedings. This always leads to more favorable outcomes for youth in care and their families.
We are inspired by all who provide care and support to foster youth and families! Raising awareness about the need to support and partner with families and invest in the lives of children and youth in care is the purpose of National Foster Care Month. To learn more, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Here you can find additional information, resources and read inspiring stories of foster care.
 The Children’s Bureau at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) AFCARS data show the number of children in foster care decreased by more than 10,000, from 435,000 at the end of FY 2018 to 424,000 at the end of FY 2019.
Jeff Lukich is the Child Welfare Strategy and Practice Lead at DLH Corporation. Previously, he served nearly 30 years with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. Jeff retired as the Division’s Chief of Staff in 2018.